Federal officials are investigating an outbreak of botulism poisoning, but few details are available.

Canned soup is a suspect food, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

No other details have been released by the FSIS. No brand or flavor of soup has been named, but the USDA regulates foods with meat and poultry ingredients.

The FSIS generally does not include information in its initial outbreak notices about the number of sick people or where they live.

The bacteria that causes botulism poisoning is Clostridium botulinum. It produces a neurotoxin and commonly grows in foods that are not held at high enough temperatures and in improperly processed food in cans and jars. Home-canned foods are particularly vulnerable to improper methods of processing. 

About botulism poisoning
While a variety of illnesses can result from eating under-processed food, one of the most dangerous is botulism poisoning. Untreated, botulism can paralyze the muscles needed for breathing, resulting in sudden death.

Anyone who has eaten any canned soup and developed signs of botulism poisoning should immediately seek medical attention, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, symptoms can begin as soon as 6 hours after or up to 10 days later,” according to the CDC website.

The symptoms of botulism may include some or all of the following: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. People with botulism poisoning may not show all of these symptoms at once.

These symptoms result from muscle paralysis caused by the toxin. If untreated, the disease may progress, and symptoms may worsen to cause paralysis of specific muscles, including those used in breathing and those in the arms, legs, and the body from the neck to the pelvis area.

FSIS statement on outbreak investigations
During investigations, FSIS may respond by posting recalls of FSIS-regulated products linked to illness or by issuing public health alerts. Following outbreak investigations, FSIS conducts after-action reviews to identify, share, and apply lessons learned with public health, industry partners, and consumers to help prevent future illness and improve future outbreak response.

The Outcomes & References column includes links to recall notices, public health alerts, and after-action review reports, as well as CDC outbreak notices for selected multistate foodborne outbreaks, which provide additional information. For a list of all foodborne outbreaks reported to CDC since 1998, please use the CDC National Outbreak Reporting System Dashboard.

Frequently Asked Questions are listed below the table.

This table has been abbreviated to show only active investigations.

Click on table to enlarge.

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