What Is Botulism?

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 21-Jul-2017

Earlier this year, multiple people became seriously ill after consuming nacho cheese sauce at a California gas station. All ten people were hospitalized and two died after consuming the nachos. An investigation revealed these individuals were sickened by a botulinum toxin, resulting in botulism poisoning. There are typically several dozen similar cases of botulism poisoning that occur nationwide each year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), botulism is a rare but life-threatening illness caused by botulinum, a neurotoxin byproduct produced by bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum. Although these bacteria can occur naturally in several places, people most often associate botulism with food poisoning.

Clostridium botulinum and its neurotoxic byproduct can grow inside of improperly preserved foods, when they may be ingested by consumers. According to, these products may include home-canned foods with low acid content, improperly canned foods, cheese sauce, certain baby foods and bottled garlic. Low acid foods include green beans, asparagus, beets, corn and potatoes. After ingesting botulinum, illness can occur at 12 to 72 hours for adults and 3 to 30 days for infants.

According to the CDC, adults who are sickened with botulism may develop blurred vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness and trouble speaking. In the case that occurred earlier this year in California, one of the people sickened called a family member and could barely formulate a sentence. With infants, they might experience lethargy, constipation and problems feeding.

Can I File a Lawsuit for Botulism Poisoning?

Those who survive botulism may have a difficult road to recovery. One of the people sickened by botulism earlier this year has spent more than two months in the intensive care unit (ICU) undergoing rehabilitation for her illness.

In cases where severe illness or wrongful death occurs, it is important to contact an attorney to discuss possible legal options. Botulism food poisoning is often preventable and may not occur unless food has been improperly preserved or prepared.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the business that sold the product or manufacturer that produced the food responsible for the illness. The Washington DC personal injury attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC can help you if any legal options are available for holding these parties accountable.

Categories: Food Safety
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