Friday, September 5, 2008

Garlic-in-Oil... Potentially Dangerous


Storing garlic, either whole, chopped or minced, in oil is a common form of preserving it since it conserves the garlic taste really well. However, did you know that if you don’t properly store your garlic-oil mixture, you can get very sick?

Clostridium Botulinum is a bacteria that causes botulism- a potentially fatal condition- and it’s actually quite widespread in nature. If the bacteria is exposed to oxygen, the spores can’t grow and can’t produce the toxins that will cause botulism. However, when you take garlic, that contains the bacteria, and cover it in oil, there’s no oxygen present. This is the perfect environment for the spores to grow and produce toxins. There is no change in smell, taste or appearance of the garlic to indicate the presence of toxins, making it all the more dangerous.

When you consume garlic with toxins, you can get botulism. Symptoms include dizziness, blurred or double vision, difficulty in breathing, swallowing and speaking , paralysis and even death.

To avoid getting poisoned, use your garlic-in-oil preparation right away and throw away leftovers. If you want to store it, refrigerate right away- don’t leave it at room temperature- and use within a week. After a week, throw it away. You can freeze your garlic-in oil preparation (the oil prevents the mixture from freezing completely) but it’s recommended you use it right away once you take it out, put it back in the freezer or, again, refrigerate right away and use within a week.

Commercial garlic-in-oil preparations are free from toxins when the product has been preserved. To make sure it has been preserved, check the ingredient list and look for salt or acid. Prior to adopting these preservation techniques, there were 2 botulism outbreaks reported in the late 1980s linked to these products. Remember to still follow the storage directions on the product.

Sources:

Garlic in Oil. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/garlic-ail-eng.php

Household Solutions 40. http://www.dabbler.ca/household-solutions/household-solutions-40-20080623/

1 comment:

Mark Martinez said...

Thanks for the insight, never knew garlic-in-oil is a bad idea. I'm not a fan of cooking, yet I like eating garlic when it's mixed with the dish.
Mark Martinez,
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