Botulism fears lead to public warning about chili oil made in Richmond home

Botulism fears lead to public warning about chili oil made in Richmond home
Vancouver Coastal Health issues botulism warning over Richmond-made sauce
Vancouver Coastal Health is warning people not to consume a chili oil sauce made in a Richmond home due to what it says is a botulism risk.

The health authority says it has advised the maker of Betty's King Sauce, which is largely sold online and on social media, to stop making the product. It has also advised consumers to throw out any remaining product they have.

"Inspectors discovered that the product is being produced in a person's home in Richmond, which is not an approved and inspected facility," a statement read. "The ingredients and processing method could allow for the growth of the harmful bacteria."

The Instagram account for Betty's King Sauce posted a statement Wednesday acknowledging the action by the health authority and highlighting that there have been no health issues from the sauce.

"I don't make it in a commercial kitchen and couldn't afford to keep sharing the joy it brings my community if I did," the statement read.

"I don't make it in a commercial facility that is tested. It does not mean there has been any issues, but said that I have to stop my home production."

It is uncommon — fewer than seven cases of botulism in Canada are reported each year — but culprits can be improperly preserved canned foods at home or improperly refrigerated meats.

Vancouver Coastal Health says contaminated food may not look or smell spoiled but when eaten can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dry throat, respiratory failure or paralysis. Symptoms develop 12 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, the health authority said.

She said no penalties have been assessed at this time but if production resumes "we may look at a fine."

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Vancouver Coastal Health says anyone who has Betty's King Sauce in their cupboard should throw it away.

Vancouver Coastal Health has issued a public warning about a locally-made sauce which could cause botulism.

The health authority said investigators have discovered that Betty’s King Sauce, sold in six-ounce jars, is being prepared in a Richmond home, which is not an approved or inspected facility.

It added that the ingredients being used and the processing method could allow for the growth of Clostridium boltulinum, the bacteria that produces a toxin known to cause food-borne botulism.

The sauce has been marketed online through Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as a website, dating back to 2014, according to VCH.

However, it says the processor has been advised to cease production, and that anyone who has the product at home should throw it away.

Vancouver Coastal Health warns that food contaminated with the toxin might not look or smell spoiled. However, if ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, respiratory failure or paralysis.

It says people who contract botulism usually display symptoms 12 to 36 hours after consuming the contaminated food.

Anyone with concerns or questions can call Vancouver Coastal Health’s health protection division at 604-233-3147.