Dozens of Italians taken to hospital after being poisoned by pesto sauce contaminated with BOTOX
- More than 50 people hospitalised from pesto contaminated with Botulinum
- Manufacturer Bruzzone and Ferrari carried out tests on their products
- Company confirmed presence of the bacteria toxin could have developed in one batch of its pesto, and said tests are ongoing
- Botulimum, also known as Botox, is toxic when ingested
By Hannah Roberts In Rome Daily Mail PUBLISHED: 22 July 2013
More than 50 people, who had eaten jarred pesto from a local producer, sought help at local hospitals after suffering symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea and high fevers.
Tests on the pesto showed the presence of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which produces the toxin Botulinum, used cosmetically by television personalities such as Simon Cowell. When ingested the toxin causes a life-threatening kind of food poisoning.
Health and food safety workers were inundated with calls through the weekend requesting information on the scare.
Six of those admitted, including two children, were kept in overnight for observation as further tests are carried out.
Bruzzone and Ferrari alerted health authorities on Friday pulling the jars from supermarket shelves.
The company said: ‘We made the discovery during our own tests and analysis of our fresh product, non pasteurised product, which contains no preservatives’.
Local newspaper Il Secolo XIX reported on Saturday that Stefano Bruzzone, one of the company’s owners, as saying: ‘In one sample we found level of substances which forced us to recall a whole batch of the product.’
He told the paper they have done everything they should do to take care of their customers, spending 25,000 euros a year on laboratory analyses to avoid such episodes.
He added: ‘The tests are still in progression – the hypothesis Botox is not yet confirmed but there is the risk that the toxin could have developed in one batch of pesto.’
But today’s national newspaper La Stampa reports: ‘In one of the batches of Pesto di Pra produced by the old established company Ferrari e Bruzone, in an internal test, the germs responsible for the toxin Cloostridium botulium have been found.’
The Botox toxin can occur in conserves and jarred foods and attacks the nervous system. While it usually causes similar symptoms to food poisoning including vomiting, stomach pains and fever it can in extreme cases cause psychosis and even death.
The name pesto comes from ‘pestello’, the Italian word for the pestle which was once used to grind basil, garlic and cheese into the well-loved sauce.
The earliest known record of the sauce is an 1865 cookbook ‘Genovese Recipes’ in which it is defined as ‘beaten basil and garlic which is used to season pasta’.
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