What Are the Chances of Getting Botulism From Canned Food?

Botulism is a rare, but serious form of food poisoning that can cause paralysis and even death. It is caused by a toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, which is found in soil and can contaminate food. Canned foods are most often associated with botulism because the low-oxygen environment in cans allows the bacteria to grow and produce the toxin.

While it is possible to get botulism from canned food, it is not very likely. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that only about 145 cases of botulism occur in the United States each year, and only about 15% of those cases are caused by eating contaminated food. Of those cases, only about 10-15% are linked to eating contaminated canned food.

The risk of getting botulism from canned food can be reduced by following some simple precautions. Make sure that canned foods have been properly processed and sealed before they are purchased. Look for signs of spoilage such as bulging lids or leaking cans before opening them. Once opened, discard any cans that have an off odor or appearance.

It’s also important to take extra care when preparing home-canned foods like jams or sauces, as these products can be at greater risk for contamination if they are not processed correctly. To reduce the risk of botulism contamination in home-canned foods, make sure to follow all directions carefully and process your products using a pressure canner at the correct temperature and pressure for the correct length of time.


In conclusion, while it is possible to get botulism from canned food, it is not very likely due to increased safety regulations around processing and distribution of canned goods. However, taking some simple precautions like checking for signs of spoilage before opening cans and properly processing home-canned foods can help reduce the chances even further.