The Virginia health authorities are investigating two cases of botulism, but it has nothing to do with the this year's Castleberry canned chili recall. The culprit this time is home-canned food.
Home-canning is a risky business - especially of "low acid" foods such as stews or vegetables. Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, thrives in the absence of air. Its spores survive boiling water temperatures. The bug produces a neurotoxin that can cause a deadly paralysis. Contaminated cans often look completely normal.
Botulinum toxin can be destroyed by boiling for 10 minutes, so if you insist on home-canning, please be sure to boil the heck out of whatever you are about to eat, even if the contents of the can look and smell fine.
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