Clostridium botulinum is one of the better known foodborne disease microorganisms due to the severe nature of the illness it causes.
Fortunately, in Australia it is fairly rare. As Clostridium botulinum grows in food it produces a neurotoxin. This causes symptoms about 12- 36 hours after consumption, although this can vary. Early symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting, but neurological symptoms follow. Infant botulism is commonly reported in some countries in children under one year old and the source of the infection is usually unknown. However, a common source is dust or soil.
C. botulinum forms spores when it is heated and when conditions become favourable the spores germinate. In the past it has been mainly associated with canned foods but it has recently also been associated with vegetables in oil and some other foods.