Mary’s Home Canning, Citing Botulism Concerns, Recalls Vegetable Soup

Botulism from home canning leads to recall of soup
Botulism, once a common illness linked to improperly canned or prepared foods, has largely been eradicated by modern food processing standard and practices.

Home Canning Company Recalls Vegetable Soup

Mary’s Home Canning is recalling Mary’s Home Made Vegetable Soup due to concerns it may have become contaminated with a life-threatening bacteria.

A Lancaster, Pennsylvania company is recalling 1,644 jars of canned goods due to potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum, which is the bacteria that causes the illness known as botulism.

Mary’s Home Canning has initiated recalls of the following products:

  • Mary’s Homemade Vegetable Soup (Net Wt. 16 OZ) and
  • Mary’s Homemade Vegetable Soup (Net Wt. 32 OZ).

The company is recalling a total of 516 16-ounces cans, and an additional 1,128 32-ounce cans.

Mary’s Homemade Vegetable Soup that is subject to the recall has been  distributed in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, in both retail stores and farmer’s markets.

The soup was contained in clear glass jars, each of which closed with a white screw top lid. The jars came in both pint-size and quart-size varieties.

According to the recall notice, “the label of the jar reads in part: ‘Mary’s Home Made Vegetable Soup…Heat and Serve…829-A Strasburg Road, Paradise, PA 17562.'” The FDA notice goes on to note that no codes or expiration dates are present on these products.

Home-Canned Foods Most Common Source of Botulism, Botulism Outbreaks in United States

Home canning historically has been associated with Botulism outbreaks. In fact, according to the FDA, “most of the 10 to 30 outbreaks [of botulism] that are reported annually in the United States are associated with inadequately processed, home-canned foods,” which are precisely the foods we’re dealing with in this recall.

The decision to announce the recall became clear once it was understood that there is a legitimate chance that the soup may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a foodborne pathogen which has the capacity to cause life-threatening illness or death.

Botulinum toxin, “one of the most poisonous biological substances known, is a neurotoxin produced by” these bacteria. According to a team of highly-qualified scientists led by Stephen Arnon, M.D., “a single gram of crystalline toxin, evenly dispersed and inhaled, would kill more than one million people.”

Don’t worry, though: the study goes on to note that technical considerations would make such dispersal problematic, if not impossible. While we apparently have little to fear from aerosolized dispersion of botulism toxin, the threat of its existence in food – including the recalled soups – is real, and not something to take lightly.

One of the elements that makes botulism such a difficult bacteria to deal with is that, once contaminated with the bacteria, most food retains its normal consistency and smell. As a result, the FDA release regarding the recently-announced recall explicitly urges consumers to dispose of any recalled product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

A Beginner’s Guide to Botulism: Basic Signs and Symptoms

Once a human being contracts botulism, they generally begin to experience symptoms between 18 and 36 hours after eating the food that contained the pathogen. In some rare cases, however, the onset of symptoms has occurred in as few as four hours or as many as eight days.

An infective dose of the bacteria – in other words, how much of the bacteria would have to actually enter your system to make you contract a full-fledged infection, is very low. According to the FDA, “a few nanograms of toxin can cause illness.”

The earliest signs of intoxication usually include weakness and vertigo, double vision, and a progressively more difficult time speaking.

Other symptoms to watch for include general weakness, problems with swallowing, dizziness, difficulty breathing and constipation.


Disposing of Recalled Goods

No illnesses linked to the recalled vegetable soup have been reported to date.

Officials noted the potential risk for botulism contamination when the FDA conducted regular product testing. The tests performed by the agency indicated that the pH of the soup was high, “and it did not receive an adequate process time or temperature,” and the pathogen would have been able to easily grow and multiply in such an environment.

The company asks that anyone with a product fitting the description of the recalled soups “should return the product to where it was purchased, if possible, or call Mary’s Home Canning at 717-442-8349 for return instructions.”

According to the distributor, phone calls should be made during Eastern Standard Time.

If you or a family member have been affected by food poisoning, please fill out our free case evaluation  form or call us toll-free at 1-888-335-4901. One of our experienced attorneys will contact you to discuss your case at no cost to you.


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