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I have found that some of my home-canned food is spoiled. How can I safely dispose of it and clean the jars?

Treat all jars and cans of spoiled low-acid foods, including tomatoes, as if they contained botulinum toxin, and handle in one of two ways:


1) If swollen metal cans or suspect glass jars are still sealed, place them in a heavy garbage bag. Close the bag, and place it in a regular trash container or bury it in a nearby landfill.


2) If the suspect cans or glass jars are unsealed, open or leaking, detoxify (destroy the bacteria) as follows before disposal. Detoxification process: Carefully place the containers of food and lids on their sides in an eight-quart or larger pan. Wash your hands thoroughly. Carefully add water to the pan until it is at least one inch above the containers. Avoid splashing the water. Place a lid on the pan, and heat the water to boiling. Boil 30 minutes to ensure that you have destroyed all bacteria. Cool, and discard the containers, lids and food in the trash, or bury in soil. Thoroughly scrub all counters, containers and equipment that may have touched the food or containers - don't forget the can opener, your clothing and hands. Place any sponges or wash cloths used in the cleanup in a plastic bag, and discard in the trash.

Barbara Willenberg, Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia 





Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009



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