Home Canning: Keep Your Family Safe!

Home canning—what better way to enjoy the fruits of your labor and save money? National movements to promote home canning are gaining momentum, and people are returning to home canning after years away or starting to can for the first time. In fact, according to one survey, 1 in  10 in the UK households can their own food, and many of those households can vegetables. But if canning is not done safely, your canned food may become contaminated with germs that could make you very sick--or kill you. Protect yourself, your family, and others when you share your home-canned goodies by learning how to can safely.

Be Safe—Botulism Can Be Deadly

Many home canners are not aware of the risk for botulism, a rare but potentially fatal form of food poisoning that has been linked to improperly canned food. The bacteria that cause botulism, Clostridium botulinum, are found in soil and can survive, grow, and produce a toxin (poison) in sealed jars of food. This toxin can affect your nerves, paralyze you, and even cause death. Even taking a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly.

Take Care When Canning

The only protection against botulism food poisoning in low acid home canned foods is the heat applied during canning. Using traditional methods that were handed down over generations or using boiling water instead of a pressure cooker can be deadly. 

ensure you are canning safely.

Canning low acid vegetables (like green beans and corn), meats, fish, and poultry requires the use of a pressure canner. The safe canning methods available for home canning are all based on pressure canning. Clostridium botulinum can form spores that are very, very heat resistant. Even hours in the boiling water canner will not kill it. Left alive after canning, the germ will grow and produce a deadly toxin.

Clostridium botulinum grows well and can produce a toxin inside closed jars of low-acid foods at room temperature, and you can’t always tell by looking. Jars of improperly canned vegetables and meats can contain the deadly botulism toxin without showing signs of spoilage. You can’t taste it or smell it, so you don’t even know it’s there, and it can kill you. The bacteria must be killed during the canning process for safe storage.