Vancouver – As the first local fruits and vegetables of summer start to ripen, the BC Centre for Disease Control is reminding people to practice safe home canning.

Improper canning can lead to botulism, a serious form of food poisoning that can cause death.

In the past three years, three people in BC have been hospitalized after eating home-canned foods. One person became ill after eating home-canned green beans, another after eating fermented salmon roe and a third from watermelon jelly purchased from a charity.

To prevent illness:

  • Always follow the recipe.

  • Do not reduce the time or pressure specified in the recipe.

  • When a recipe calls for a pressurized canner, never substitute with the boiling water bath method.

  • The boiling water bath method can only be used for high acid foods such as strawberries or rhubarb – it should never be used for vegetables, meats, seafood and other low acid foods.

  • Do not reduce sugar or acid (lemon juice, vinegar) in the recipe.

  • Only use clean fruits and vegetables, free from soil, and remove bruised, damaged or cut flesh.

  • When preparing fruit jellies and jams, ensure the type of fruit you are using has natural acid.

  • Add acid if necessary as high-acid foods help to slow and stop the growth of dangerous bacteria.

  • Use clean, undamaged canning jars and only new unused canning lids

  • Never reuse lids.

  • Follow the instructions given with the jars and lids on how to prepare them before use.

  • Never use other types of food jars such as empty peanut butter containers for canning. They are not designed for this purpose.

  • Boil lids for 5 minutes to soften the seals.

Learn more:

BC Health File: Home Canning – How to Avoid Botulism USDA Canning Guide

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