Health Hazards In Semiperishable Subsistence

a. General. Determine the existence of any potential health hazard, based upon the type and amount of product deterioration. A health hazard is defined as any subsistence that could harm a person's health and/or well-being.

b. Oxidative Rancidity. If this condition is present in severe quantities, a potential health hazard may exist. For a discussion on the potential health hazard of oxidative rancidity in foods, see paragraph 1-14.

c. Microbial Spoilage. Depending upon the microorganisms present in the product, microbial spoilage may certainly be a potential health hazard.

(1) Characteristics of botulism contamination. Food poisoning types of other than Clostridium botulinum are rarely found in canned foods. Clostridium botulinum has been the cause of many deaths from consumption of home-canned foods. Since commercial heat processes are regulated by FDA and USDA, the problem is very rare in commercially canned foods. In addition to its deadly toxin, Clostridium botulinum normally produces gas from most sugars (and thus swells the container) or digests the low-acid canned food. Therefore, the person opening the container has some indication of its presence. When an odor is produced, it is putrefactive, not fecal or sour, but sickening.

(2) Other potential contaminants. Other food poisoning types are extremely rare and have not been found in commercially canned foods in the US. Salmonellae and staphylococci produce no spores to survive heating and are therefore of no consequence in commercially canned foods. While Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus produce spores, they have very little heat resistance in comparison with the spore-forming spoilage types. In addition, since Clostridium perfringens is a profuse gas producer, it would burst most containers of canned foods.

d. Foreign Material. Foreign material must exceed certain formal guidelines to present a potential health hazard. The type of foreign material found on the product will also determine the health hazard potential.

e. Deterioration From Unknown Cause. If the cause for a deteriorative condition is unknown, the veterinary officer will make the decision as to whether a potential health hazard is present or not.

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