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Herring Recalled in Botulism Risk

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Food Poisoning related image Photo: Getty Images

Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. is recalling its Herring Special Salting fish after an inspection by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Market Food Inspectors found that the fish had not been properly gutted prior to processing.

Clostridium botulinum spores are most likely to be found in the internal organs of the fish (organs such as the heart, liver, stomach and intestines) than any other part of the body. The muscle (or fillet) of the fish is the part that is usually eaten. Clostridium botulinum spores can cause botulism, a food poisoning illness that can be serious or even fatal. Uneviscerated (not gutted) fish have led to outbreaks of botulism.

Symptoms of botulism:

Double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, dry mouth, constipation, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech. The reflexes, such as the gag reflex and the knee jerk reflex, may be absent. If left untreated, the neurotoxins can cause paralysis and eventually paralyze the breathing muscles and result in respiratory failure.

Treatment of Botulism:

Treatment includes induction of vomiting to remove contaminated food from the body, or by enemas. Supportive emergency intensive care is also used, such as mechanical ventilation, if needed. An injection of antibodies to botulism can be given if the patient is in the early stages of poisoning but may not help if given later. This is because medics aren’t sure exactly how much antitoxin is needed to counteract botulism.

"Experimental evidence concerning the amount of circulating antitoxin needed to counteract botulism toxin poisoning by antitoxin therapy is not fully documented. The outcome of treatment depends, as it does in other comparable conditions, largely on the time interval elapsing after onset of symptoms before the peak of absorbed antitoxin is reached. This principle is illustrated in reported animal experiments."

This type of treatment is not suitable for anyone with an allergy to horses as the antibodies are derived from horses. It is also not suitable for anyone with asthma or hay fever as it may result in anaphylactic shock in people with these conditions.

Prevention of Botulism:

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