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Woman ill from botulism in juice

Her carrot juice was not properly stored, which caused the toxin to grow. Three other people are said to have the illness.

Published October 6, 2006

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County woman has been hospitalized and is severely ill after drinking bottled carrot juice contaminated with botulism.

The woman is unresponsive and has paralysis, said Jylmarie Kintz, epidemiologist with the Hillsborough County health department. The health department did not identify the woman.

Three other people have gotten sick in Georgia. Health officials believe all four people were sickened by carrot juice bottled by the same company, Wm. Bolthouse Farms of Bakersfield, Calif.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms Carrot Juice in 450 ml or 1 liter plastic bottles, with “best if used by” dates of Nov. 11 or earlier. The company has recalled the juice, which may also be labeled Earthbound Farm Organic Carrot Juice or President’s Choice Organics 100% Pure Carrot Juice.

The people who got sick apparently didn’t refrigerate the juice properly at home, allowing spores that produce botulinum toxin to develop.

“One of the keys to food safety measures is proper refrigeration,’’ Kintz said.

Other Bolthouse Farms carrot juice has tested free from toxin, the FDA said. All fresh carrot juice has the potential to harbor botulism if it’s not properly refrigerated, the agency said.

Botulism is a rare illness, with about 10 cases in the U.S. each year. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting; progressive weakness, leading to paralysis; double vision; breathing difficulty; and difficulty swallowing and speaking.

The disease, which can be fatal, is treated with an anti-toxin. People with trouble breathing may also be put on a ventilator.

[Last modified October 6, 2006, 22:06:00]

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