Botulism: Understanding a Rare but Serious Illness


Snapchill coffee products recalled over botulinum toxin concerns.

Snapchill canned coffee products are being recalled due to containing botulinum toxin.

Snapchill canned coffee products are being recalled due to containing botulinum toxin.

Image credits: Unsplash

Snapchill LLC has initiated a voluntary recall of 242 canned coffee products due to potential contamination with botulinum toxin, a deadly neurotoxin that can form in low-acid canned foods. The recall affects products within their expiration dates, sold under various coffee roaster names across the United States, including brands such as Big Iron, Bold Bean, and Cape Cod Coffee.1

The FDA alerted Snapchill to the issue after discovering that the manufacturing process for these products, categorized as low-acid canned foods, was not appropriately registered with the FDA as required by regulation. While no illnesses related to these products have been reported to date, the company has initiated the recall as a precautionary measure to ensure consumer safety.1

The recalled coffee products were distributed nationwide through retail locations, coffee roasters, and Snapchill's direct online sales. These products can be identified by the label "Produced and distributed by Snapchill LLC" beneath the nutrition facts panel, with some prominently displaying "Snapchill Coffee" on their packaging.1

Consumers who have purchased any of the affected products are advised to either dispose of them immediately or return them to Snapchill or the place of purchase for a full refund. Refunds will be provided upon submission of appropriate proof of purchase, such as a picture of the product before disposal.1

Main Takeaways

  1. Snapchill LLC has initiated a voluntary recall of 242 canned coffee products across the US due to potential contamination with botulinum toxin, a deadly neurotoxin.
  2. Botulism, caused by bacteria like Clostridium botulinum, can lead to severe symptoms including paralysis and requires immediate medical attention for treatment.
  3. Consumers are advised to dispose of or return recalled products, with no reported cases yet but the recall aims to prevent potential health risks associated with botulinum toxin ingestion.

About Botulism

Botulism is a rare, yet severe illness caused by a potent toxin that attacks the nerves of the body. This toxin, known as botulinum toxin, can lead to muscle paralysis, difficulty breathing, and in rare cases, death.2

“Ingestion of botulinum toxin results in an illness of variable severity. Common symptoms are diplopia, blurred vision, and bulbar weakness. Symmetric paralysis may progress rapidly. Symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, symptoms can begin as soon as 6 hours after or up to 10 days later,” according to the CDC.3

The toxin is produced by a bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. These bacteria can generate toxins in environments like improperly canned or fermented foods, such as canned coffees. While these bacteria are commonly found in nature, they typically do not cause illness. They form spores that act as protective shells, enabling them to survive harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures and lack of oxygen. Under specific conditions, low oxygen levels, low acidity, low sugar and salt content, certain temperatures, and adequate moisture, these spores can germinate and produce the toxin.2

Improperly home-canned or preserved foods can create an environment conducive to toxin production. When contaminated foods are consumed, individuals can suffer severe illness or even death without prompt medical intervention.2

A report by Contagion supports the rarity yet severity of this illness.

“Most physicians have never seen a case of botulism. Our intention is to bring awareness to, and provide a resource for, recognition of the clinical presentation and treatment of botulism so that physicians know when to suspect botulism and quickly seek public health assistance. The sooner botulism is suspected, the sooner treatment can be administered, resulting in better health outcomes.”4

In conclusion, a complete list of affected products, which includes a variety of metal can sizes ranging from 7 oz to 12 oz, can be found on Snapchill's website. Snapchill emphasizes that while no confirmed cases of botulinum toxin contamination have been reported in their products, the recall is a precautionary measure aimed at protecting public health.1

  1. News Desk. Canned coffee products sold under 128 coffee roaster names recalled over potential Clostridium botulinum contamination. Published June 21, 2024. Accessed June 21, 2024.
  2. CDC. About Botulism. About Botulism. Last reviewed April 18, 2024. Accessed June 21, 2024.
  3. CDC. Botulism (Clostridium botulinum) 2011 Case Definition. Last reviewed April 16, 2021. Accessed June 21, 2024.
  4. Dunleavy B.CDC Takes on Botulism in New CID Supplement. Contagion. Published January 18, 2021. Accessed June 21, 2024.
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