How Common Is Botulism in Store Bought Canned Food?

Botulism is a particularly dangerous form of food poisoning caused by a toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. This toxin can cause paralysis and is potentially fatal, making it a serious issue in food safety. It is often associated with home-canned foods, but it can also occur in store-bought canned food, although it is much less common.

The risk of getting botulism from commercially canned foods is very low, but it’s not impossible. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there have been several cases of botulism related to commercially canned food since the 1970s.

In these cases, the cans were damaged or had not been properly sealed. For example, one outbreak of botulism in 2000 was traced back to a can of chili con carne that had a pinhole in the lid.

In addition to cans with faulty seals, there have been reports of contamination occurring during the production process due to improper hygiene or temperature control during the canning process. There have also been cases where bacteria were able to grow inside the can due to inadequate heat treatment during processing.

To reduce your risk of getting botulism from store-bought canned food, you should always check for any signs of damage before purchasing and always follow storage instructions on the label carefully. If you see any signs of swelling or leakage on the cans or jar lids, don’t buy them and alert the store manager immediately.

If you suspect that your food has been contaminated with botulism, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately as this toxin can cause paralysis and death if left untreated.


Botulism from store bought canned food is rare but possible if cans are damaged or not properly sealed. To reduce your risk, always check for signs of damage before purchasing and follow storage instructions carefully. If you suspect you’ve eaten contaminated canned food, seek medical attention immediately as this toxin can be fatal if left untreated.