HealthFermented foods a boon to gut health or a hidden botulinum toxin threat?

Fermented foods a boon to gut health or a hidden botulinum toxin threat?

Beware of pickles, even though they are healthy, this mistake can cause serious poisoning.
Beware of pickles, even though they are healthy, this mistake can cause serious poisoning.
Images source: © Licensor | Grazyna Palaszewska

3:37 PM EST, January 10, 2024

Fermented foods are beneficial for health, but only under certain conditions. They must be prepared at home and not be spoiled. Otherwise, consumption could harm us, and it's not just because of excessive salt or unnecessary chemical additives, which some food manufacturers are notorious for adding.

Botulinum toxin, or specifically the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, is typically associated with poisoning from meat products. However, what's often overlooked is that it's one of the most potent neurotoxic poisons known to science. Therefore, ingestion could result in tragic outcomes.

This bacteria can cause damage to the peristalsis (the waves of contraction) of the intestines and disrupt urination, leading to grave outcomes. One by one, it disables muscles, including respiratory muscles, which could lead to sudden circulatory arrest or paralysis of the respiratory system. Interestingly, this bacteria can be present in fermented foods. Dr. Magdalena Cubała-Kucharska, MD, a family medicine physician and a certified dietitian from the Institute of Food and Nutrition in Warsaw, and a member of the Polish Nutritional Society, addresses this concern in an interview with WP abcHealth.

"Fermented foods are susceptible to mold, and while botulinum toxin is rare, if you notice a bulging lid on a jar, discard it immediately and without hesitation," the expert advises.
"While there are types of molds that can benefit health, I'm afraid I have bad news for fermented food enthusiasts. The ones that present as fuzz on cucumbers, for example, are harmful. There's no salvaging it — these molds penetrate deep into the food, meaning there's no way to save a moldy jar of cucumbers. If there's mold, everything must be discarded" - warns the doctor.
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