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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Apr;50(4):281-304. doi: 10.1080/10408390802544405.

Clostridium botulinum in cattle and dairy products.

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  • 1Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.


The use of plastic-wrapped and nonacidified silage as cattle feed has led to an increasing number of botulism outbreaks due to Clostridium botulinum Groups I-III in dairy cattle. The involvement of Groups I and II organisms in cattle botulism has raised concern of human botulism risk associated with the consumption of dairy products. Multiplication of C. botulinum in silage and in the gastrointestinal tract of cattle with botulism has been reported, thus contamination of the farm environment and raw milk, and further transmission through the dairy chain, are possible. The standard milk pasteurization treatment does not eliminate spores, and the intrinsic factors of many dairy products allow botulinal growth and toxin production. Although rare, several large botulism outbreaks due to both commercial and home-prepared dairy products have been reported. Factors explaining these outbreaks include most importantly temperature abuse, but also unsafe formulation, inadequate fermentation, insufficient thermal processing, post-process contamination, and lack of adequate quality control for adjunct ingredients were involved. The small number of outbreaks is probably explained by a low incidence of spores in milk, the presence of competitive bacteria in pasteurized milk and other dairy products, and growth-inhibitory combinations of intrinsic and extrinsic factors in cultured and processed dairy products.

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