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An outbreak of foodborne botulism associated with contaminated hazelnut yoghurt

  • M. O'Mahony (a1), E. Mitchell (a1), R. J. Gilbert (a2), D. N. Hutchinson (a3), N. T. Begg (a1), J. C. Rodhouse (a2) and J. E. Morris (a4)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2009

The largest recorded outbreak of foodborne botulism in the United Kingdom occurred in June 1989. A total of 27 patients was affected; one patient died. Twenty-five of the patients had eaten one brand of hazelnut yoghurt in the week before the onset of symptoms. This yoghurt contained hazelnut conserve sweetened with aspartame rather than sugar. Clostridium botulinum type B toxin was detected in a blown can of hazelnut conserve, opened and unopened cartons of hazelnut yoghurt, and one faecal specimen. Cl. botulinum type B was subsequently cultured from both opened and unopened cartons of the hazelnut yoghurt and from one faecal specimen. Investigations indicated that the processing of the conserve was inadequate to destroy Cl. botulinum spores. Control measures included the cessation of all yoghurt production by the implicated producer, the withdrawal of the firm's yoghurts from sale, the recall of cans of the hazelnut conserve, and advice to the general public to avoid the consumption of all hazelnut yoghurts.

Corresponding author
* Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, Communicable Dieses Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London. NW9 5EQ, UK.
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9.EM Mackay-Scollay . Two cases of botulism. J Path Bact 1958; 75: 482–5.

15.ME St Louis , SHS Peck , D Bowering , Botulism from chopped garlic: delayed recongnition of a majar outbreak. Ann Int Med 1988; 108: 363–8.

16.JH Chou , PH Hwang , MD Malison . An outbreak of type A foodborne botulism in Taiwan due to commerrcially preserved peantuts. Int J Epidemiol 1988; 17: 899902.

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