Botulism fears lead to public warning about chili oil made in Richmond home

Vancouver Coastal Health is warning people not to consume a chili oil sauce made in a Richmond home due to what they say is a botulism risk. The authority also notes that no cases of botulism have been connected to the sauce.

Vancouver Coastal Health notes no known botulism cases have been caused by Betty's King Sauce

Vancouver Coastal Health has issued a public alert about Betty's King Sauce. It is produced in a Richmond home and VCH says that makes it a botulism risk. (Vancouver Coastal Health)

Vancouver Coastal Health is warning people not to consume a chili oil sauce made in a Richmond home due to what it says is a botulism risk.

The health authority says it has advised the maker of Betty's King Sauce, which is largely sold online and on social media, to stop making the product. It has also advised consumers to throw out any remaining product they have.

"Inspectors discovered that the product is being produced in a person's home in Richmond, which is not an approved and inspected facility," a statement read. "The ingredients and processing method could allow for the growth of the harmful bacteria."

Vancouver Coastal Health notes no cases of botulism are known to have been caused by the sauce.

Maker issues statement

The Instagram account for Betty's King Sauce posted a statement Wednesday acknowledging the action by the health authority and highlighting that there have been no health issues from the sauce.

"I don't make it in a commercial kitchen and couldn't afford to keep sharing the joy it brings my community if I did," the statement read.

"I don't make it in a commercial facility that is tested. It does not mean there has been any issues, but said that I have to stop my home production."

Rare disease

Botulism is a disease caused by a neurotoxin produced by bacteria under certain conditions.

It is uncommon — fewer than seven cases of botulism in Canada are reported each year — but culprits can be improperly preserved canned foods at home or improperly refrigerated meats.

Vancouver Coastal Health says contaminated food may not look or smell spoiled but when eaten can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dry throat, respiratory failure or paralysis. Symptoms develop 12 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, the health authority said.

A spokesperson from Vancouver Coastal Health said its investigation is ongoing.

She said no penalties have been assessed at this time but if production resumes "we may look at a fine."