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NEWS RELEASE · 8th March 2011
BC Centre for Disease Control
Provincial Health Services Authority

The BC Centre for Disease Control is warning the public not to consume watermelon jelly prepared by Jamnation Fine Foods that were sold in 120 ml-sized jars. This jelly was sold at charity booths in various locations in British Columbia in 2010. This product may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. Toxins produced by this bacterium may cause botulism, a life-threatening illness.

"This recall was prompted by a suspect case of botulism on Vancouver Island, and the subsequent investigation of foods recently consumed by the individual," explains Dr. Eleni Galanis, Physician Epidemiologist with BCCDC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. "Botulism is a serious illness, and it is critical that anyone who purchased this item discard it immediately."

"The signs and symptoms of botulism cover a wide spectrum," notes Dr. Galanis. "Symptoms can begin anywhere from six hours to one week after someone has eaten food containing the toxin."

Symptoms may include blurred vision, slurred speech, and difficulty in swallowing - as well as muscle paralysis that moves progressively down the body, affecting the arms first, then the legs. Botulism can also trigger paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can result in death unless assistance with breathing is provided.

"The jelly consumed by the case was sold through the British Columbia Huntingtons Research Foundation charity booths in Duncan, and may also have been sold in other parts of province," explains Sion Shyng, Food Safety Specialist at the BCCDC. "We're concerned that this product may still be in the homes of consumers as jellies can be stored and consumed long after they are purchased."

The BCCDC is currently working with B.C. health authorities and the B.C. Ministry of Health Services to ensure the recalled product is removed from distribution and is investigating any possiblecases of illness.

"The BCCDC Public Health Microbiology and Reference Laboratory is one of the few laboratories in Canada capable of conducting tests for botulism," explains Dr. Judy Isaac-Renton, Medical Microbiologist and Public Health Laboratory Director. "Public health works closely with physicians on all potential cases of botulism, and any need for laboratory tests have to be approved by public health laboratory experts."

If you have consumed this product and have symptoms compatible with botulism, call the 24-hour HealthLink BC line at 811, contact your physician, or view the BC HealthFiles on botulism at www.bchealthguide.org/healthfiles.

For more information, please visit: www.bccdc.ca