[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
December 20, 1919


JAMA. 1919;73(25):1887-1888. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610510025016

In one respect the work of the Harvard investigators referred to last week3 has thrown some light on the possibility of botulism poisoning from factory canned goods. Both Weinzirl4 and Cheyney5 have shown that commercial canned goods, as found in the markets, are not always sterile. The proportion of cans containing viable spores of aerobic organisms varies according to the foodstuff, but may reach as high as 25 per cent. (crab meat). As long as access of air is shut off, these aerobic spores do not develop; and the canned food, though not sterile, remains unspoiled. If spores of anaerobic bacilli are present originally in the food material, they too may resist heating; but they may subsequently grow in the absence of oxygen, leading to swelling of the can, which is then discarded as not being merchantable. The odors of spoiling or souring that appear usually to