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[OCT. 2, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, issued a warning Saturday about botulism being linked to a certain brand of carrot juice. The warning comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported a fourth case of botulism was linked to Bolthouse Farms carrot juice. The FDA is warning consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms carrot juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with "best if used by" dates of Nov. 11, 2006, or earlier. Consumers should discard this product.

The fourth case of botulism poisoning involves a woman in Florida who is currently suffering from paralysis. To date, one link between the illness and the consumers appears to be that juice they drank was not properly refrigerated once it was in the home, which allowed Clostridium botulinum spores to grow and produce toxin. FDA is investigating other possible links.

"There are no reports of anyone in Illinois becoming ill with botulism after drinking Bolthouse Farms brand carrot juice or any other brand carrot juice," Whitaker said. "But, until the FDA can conclusively identify the cause of this outbreak, consumers are advised not to drink Bolthouse Farms carrot juice, 450 ml and 1 liter plastic bottles, with ‘best if used by' dates of Nov. 11, 2006, or earlier. Restaurants and grocers are advised not to serve or sell the implicated carrot juice." Anyone who thinks they may have experienced symptoms of illness after drinking carrot juice is urged to contact their health care provider.

Adequate refrigeration is one of the keys to food safety and is essential to preventing pathogen growth. Refrigerator temperatures should be no higher than 40 degrees F and freezer temperatures no higher than zero. Consumers should check the temperatures occasionally with an appliance thermometer. Consumers should look for the words "keep refrigerated" on juice labels so they know which products must be kept refrigerated. FDA is looking into whether the industry's current juice labels provide clear refrigeration instructions.

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Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium commonly found in soil. Under certain conditions these bacteria can produce a toxin that, if ingested, can result in botulism, a disease that may cause paralysis or death. Cases of botulism from processed food are extremely rare in the U.S.

Symptoms of botulism can include double vision, droopy eyelids, altered voice, trouble with speaking or swallowing, and paralysis that progresses from the neck down on both sides of the body, possibly followed by difficulty in breathing. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has sent a health advisory to local health departments and hospitals, alerting health care providers to the severity of this illness and the recent cases associated with drinking the implicated carrot juice.

[Illinois Department of Public Health news release]


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