It's been 15 years since the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has had a confirmed case of food-borne botulism, but the city is now investigating two cases -- one confirmed and one suspected. Officials suspect the source of the possible outbreak is bulk tofu sold at room temperature.
The two people who were sickened both bought tofu from a bulk, water-filled container at the same store in Flushing. They are Chinese-speaking residents of Queens and the type of tofu they bought is sometimes fermented for a special dish. The Health Department is advising New Yorkers to throw away any fermented tofu made from fresh, non-refrigerated bulk tofu.
Public health officials are trying to determine where the tofu originated and they are testing samples of the tofu taken from the two people who fell ill to look for the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Even cooking this type of tofu is not a definite safeguard against toxic botulism spores.
Food-borne botulism is rare, but can be deadly. Botulism symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.
The classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles.
If you or a loved one has fallen ill after eating unrefrigerated, bulk tofu purchased in New York, see your doctor at once. For questions about liability and accountability for harms suffered in this outbreak of food poisoning, contact an attorney at national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen, P.A., 1-888-377-8900 (Toll Free). A lawyer experienced in representing victims of foodborne illness outbreaks will provide a free case consultation.
Our law firm is one of the very few in the country practicing extensively in the area of foodborne illness litigation and we have collected tens of millions of dollars for families and individuals who have been sickened or killed by defective, contaminated food.
Source: WABC Eyewitness News 7