Fresh produce is abundant as we head into fall. Canning fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve produce and share it with friends and family members. However, Huron County Public Health (HCPH) wants to remind residents that care must be taken to ensure food safety. If not done correctly, canned vegetables and fruits can cause botulism and serious illness.
Botulism bacteria occur naturally in soil. Though normally harmless, when food is improperly canned, botulism bacteria can produce a toxin. This toxin can affect the nerves, cause paralysis, or even death. Proper preparation and simple precautions will help ensure food safety.
Here are some safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
1. Use proper canning techniques. Botulism spores are very heat resistant and require extensive boiling times. Reducing even a minute or two from the recommended times could result in a dangerous product. A complete guide to home canning can be found at www.huroncohealth.com.
2. Use the right equipment for canning. Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning low-acid foods. Low-acid foods include vegetables, some fruits, milk, meat, fish, and seafood. Do not use boiling water canners for low-acid food because they will not protect against botulism.
3. When in doubt, throw it out. One of the first warning signs that food may be spoiled is that the can or lid will bulge or seep. Other signs are visible mold on food (white, blue, black or green), cloudiness in the brine, or unusual odor. If there are any signs of contamination, throw the food out. Never taste food that you suspect is spoiled.
4. Store canned goods in a cool, dry, and dark place. Storing jars at 50⁰F to 70⁰F maintains food quality.
HCPH wants to Huron County residents to enjoy their harvest and remember to preserve their fruits and vegetables safely so they can be eaten all year long.
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