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Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. The bacterium 'Clostridium botulinum' is destroyed in low-acid foods when they are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners. Using boiling water canners for these foods poses a real risk of botulism poisoning.

If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal. Boiling food 10 minutes at altitudes below 1,000 feet destroys this poison when it is present.

For altitudes at and above 1,000 feet, add 1 minute per 1,000 ft.

additional elevation. Caution: To prevent the risk of botulism, low-acid and tomato foods not canned according to the recommendations in this publication or according to other USDA-endorsed recommendations should be boiled as above, even if you detect no signs of spoilage. All low-acid foods canned according to the approved recommendations may be eaten without boiling them when you are sure of all the following:

* Food was processed in a pressure canner.

* Gauge of the pressure canner was accurate.

* Up-to-date researched process times and pressures were used for the size of jar, style of pack, and kind of food being processed.

* The process time and pressure recommended for sterilizing the food at your altitude was followed.

* Jar lid is firmly sealed and concave.

* Nothing has leaked out when jar is opened.

* No liquid spurts out when jar is opened.

* No unnatural or "off" odors can be detected.

======================================================= === * USDA Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539 (rev. 1994) * Meal-Master format courtesy of Karen Mintzias

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