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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March 28, 2007

Brief Report: Foodborne Botulism From Home-Prepared Fermented Tofu—California, 2006

JAMA. 2007;297(12):1311-1312. doi:10.1001/jama.297.12.1311

MMWR. 2007;56:96-97

In December 2006, the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) and California Department of Health Services (CDHS) were notified of two potential cases of foodborne botulism in an older Asian couple. This report summarizes the subsequent investigation, which identified home-prepared fermented tofu (soybean curd) as the source. The public should be aware of the risk for botulism when preparing fermented tofu at home.

Botulism is a toxin-induced paralytic illness characterized by cranial nerve palsies and descending flaccid paralysis. Treatment is based on supportive care and administration of botulinum antitoxin; recovery can take from weeks to months. Foodborne botulism results from eating foods containing botulinum toxin.1 Although rare, foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because of the potential severity of illness and exposure of many persons to contaminated food.