Lancaster botulism outbreak caused by home-canned food

Botulism is something that, until recently, has remained virtually extinct from our daily news cycle. That was until an outbreak in Lancaster, Ohio actually accounted for 20% of the “typical” number of cases that the U.S. experiences in one calendar year. The outbreak was traced back to a pot luck dinner that was put on by a dinner, but was further traced back to home-canned foods. Ultimately, the outbreak left one individual dead and 28 others sick.

While botulism itself isn’t typically lethal, it’s something that has been talked about a lot recently. In fact, it has a mortality rate of between 3-5% and that is largely due to the fact that science and preservation has gotten so good in this country. However, there are still things to watch for – as the teams evaluating this instance have pointed out.


Foods that are canned at home are a concern, because they aren’t held to the same standard that commercial factories are held to. That isn’t to say that canned foods at home will lead to botulism, that’s only to point out that many of the cases of botulism that happen in the U.S., each year are from non-commercial canning processes.

Kim Shaw of Rushville was the individual who was treated for botulism following being exposed from this very pot luck dinner, but she ultimately did not survive. However, as the CDC points out “Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.” That’s why keeping instances of botulism like this down, are of the utmost importance. It takes just one or two instances of bad food to actually spread throughout a large dinner setting, which is the major problem that comes along with botulism. Thankfully though, that is the only way it can spread, and it cannot be spread from person-to-person, which is a serious positive.


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  • Well, I am sure there was no evil intent for this poor person that shared their food at the dinner. A terrible accident. God bless them all.

  • “The outbreak was traced back to a pot luck dinner that was put on by a dinner, but was further traced back to home-canned foods. ” — What does that mean? More importantly, according to whom was the outbreak further traced back to home-canned foods?

    • The last report was they found botulism in the garbage from the dinner in 4 different varieties of Potato Salad
      1 Spaghetti Pasta Salad
      2 Macaroni Salads

      That still doesn’t confirm a home canned item. They need to test further.

      • considering all the goodies people dress up such salads with – pickles, peppers, relishes, chows, etc., it’s not a unlikely source.