Food-borne botulism in the United Kingdom

James McLauchlin*, Kathleen Grant, Christine Little

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Food-borne botulism is a rare but serious disease caused by ingestions of neurotoxin [botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs)] produced as a result of the growth of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum in foods before consumption. The disease is rare in the United Kingdom, and only 62 cases have been recognized between 1922 and 2005. This report provides a brief review of C. botulinum and food-borne botulism as well as descriptions of the six episodes (33 cases with three deaths) of this disease that occurred in the United Kingdom between 1989 and 2005. The six incidents illustrate the importance of the risk factors of poor processing or storage of commercially prepared foods, improper home preservation of foods and travel to countries where botulism is much more common than in the United Kingdom. Even small outbreaks of food-borne botulism can precipitate a national emergency and inundate public health and acute care provision. This report provides a reminder to public health professions of the occurrence, diagnosis, treatment and control of this rare but serious food-borne disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-342
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Botulism
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Epidemiology
  • Foodborne intoxication
  • Public health responses


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