Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:05 am

Syzygies wrote:The environment in a well-designed fermentation crock becomes anaerobic as the carbon dioxide drives out the oxygen; it is a mistake to assume that one needs a canning vacuum for botulism to grow, as the above examples make clear.

In a well-designed fermentation vessel your are not killing off the competitive flora, and starting with an ideal environment for pathogens.
Syzygies wrote:However, it is well established that the "friendlies" in lactic acid fermentation are extremely effective at eliminating competitors such as botulism.

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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:31 am

Syzygies wrote:I'd like to learn something here. So what side effects, aesthetic or otherwise, would one expect from bringing the initial pH down below 4.6 while fermenting vegetables? There are multiple stages to fermentation; how would meddling with the initial pH affect these stages?

Look, Syzygies, I have no problem with diverging from basics and being creative. But since you ask - by lowering the pH you are creating a more select environment, and thereby (theoretically) limiting the natural ecology of the ferment. This means you may not be getting the full flavor/aroma potential from the complete ecology.

Also by using vinegar you are altering the taste. Acetic acid has a very different taste and texture than lactic acid.

There is nothing wrong with the above. An aesthetic decision to do these things is perfectly valid. But not premised with a need for better safety.

When you really think about the manufacture of mass-produced, mass-marketed hot sauces, here's what it boils down to: It's way easier to simply add vinegar to a product that's going to be pasteurized, in order to reduce its pH, so that when it sits on a grocery store shelf at room temperature it neither continues to ferment nor become pathogenic.

Live-culture foods are not championed by our modern food way not because they are less safe. It's because they naturally have a shorter shelf life in terms of consistency, and they pose major issues with distribution and not having the lids pop off as they continue to ferment.

The blue cheese sitting in the deli section is literally still ripening, and despite refrigeration it will continue to become more pungent over time. The only reason it has a "best by" date is because it will no longer taste consistent with what the manufacturer believes the public will accept - not because it'll make you sick.
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby mayrain17 on Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:35 pm

I know this is an old post. But as a newbie starting my first batch of kimchi,I do have the same concerns:
If the initial Ph is higher than 4.6,doesn't that give C.botulism an environment to thrive?
I know Sandor Kraut encourage a natural fermentation process and let the ecology takes it place.
But what scientific evidence do I know that my ferments are properly handled?
Sorry about all the silly questions.
Coming from Taiwan and China, we have so much issues of food safety and feel disconnected with food and natural.
Thank you
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby ericjs on Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:46 pm

Well it's hard to absolutely proove a negative. But what you do have is a complete lack of cases of people getting botulism from home made fermented vegetables.

Also, from the CDC article "Botulism From Drinking Prison-Made Illicit Alcohol" (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm6139.pdf):

"but botulism is uncommon because special, rarely obtained conditions are necessary for botulinum toxin production from C. botulinum spores, including an anaerobic, low-salt, low-acid, low-sugar environment at ambient temperatures."

Even before acid starts being created you still do not have a low salt environment in a jar of kraut or pickles.

Besides the beaver tail case, the only other botulism from home fermenting case I've come across was from pickled eggs. Basically the person had pierced the eggs with a toothpick before putting them in the brine, and what was believed to have happened was that the toothpick innoculated the yolk with botulism spores and the brine did not penetrate the egg.

So I would be careful with less permiable foods, but veggies don't have that problem.
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tibor on Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:57 am

I have never gotten sick from a ferment, nor from the fermented eggs I make. I was a little leery when I first started fermenting eggs because of some of the posts on this forum so I proceeded slowly. Now I am very comfortable with leaving it on the counter in a 3.6% brine(2 TBS/Quart) for 6 days and then refrigerate. It's fabulous after a month or so and I have had some after a few months as well. Common sense should keep anyone very healthy with fermented foods.
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