Is there a risk of illness when eating fermented vegetables?

    When fermenting vegetables salt or salt brine is added to encourage the Lactobacillus bacteria to thrive – the good bacteria. By doing this is creates an environment that harmful bacterias like botulism can’t thrive in.

    When vegetables aren’t fermented but canned/jarred there is a risk of harmful bacterias thriving due to the environments being suited to their needs. These environments are explained below using a quote from Tim Halls article.

    1. “C. botulinum prefers an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment that’s not too acidic, not too salty, not too crowded with other bacteria, and it does especially well at warm temperatures. A unique characteristic of C. botulinum is it’s ability to survive high temperatures for relatively long periods of time.”

    Generally we have been brought up to have a fear of the unknown and without being able to see the bacteria with the naked eye it’s sometimes hard to trust the process of vegetable fermentation. As it states below from Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation, vegetable fermentation is not risky.

    2. Fred Breidt, USDA specialist, on fermented vegetables: “There has never been a documented case of foodborne illness from fermented vegetables. Risky is not a word I would use to describe vegetable fermentation.”

    References

    1. Debunking the Botulism Fear, Tim Hall

    2. The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012

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