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Hay River farmers’ market pesto recalled over botulism risk

The territory’s chief public health officer is warning anyone who bought ready-to-eat pesto from Riverside Growers NT not to eat it because it carries a risk of botulism.
The pesto was sold at the Fisherman’s Wharf Market on July 7 and 14.
In an advisory issued Thursday, the office of Andre Corriveau stated that Botulism is a “rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis.”
Customers who bought the pesto should through it out immediately.
In Thursday evening Facebook post, Riverside Growers said it had reached out to about two thirds of the customers who purchased the pesto.
The company said it was asked to recall the jars of pesto because of a “lack of labeling.”
“The jars did not indicate refrigeration was necessary. Without refrigeration there is the potential for botulism,” reads the post.
“If we haven’t contacted you regarding the issue, please contact us for a refund.”
Riverside Growers is hydroponic farm in Hay River and a staple at Fisherman’s Wharf. The farm also sells produce at the Super A grocery store.
In a Facebook earlier last week, Riverside Growers said it sold out of the pesto it was offering on July 14.
The company “would’ve liked to see the health advisory indicate our cooperation and the small amount of product sold (19 jars, 17 customers), 12 of which were contacted by us,” Alex McMeekin, co-owner of Riverside Growers, said in a Facebook message to The Hub Thursday evening.
“For simplicity and less headaches we will be continuing to provide our community with our other fresh and healthy greens that don’t raise concerns with public health.”
When asked whether Riverside Growers would be selling at the Wharf on Saturday, he said, “You bet!!”
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, foodborne botulism has been associated with improperly prepared home-canned foods.
The agency advises dating and labelling all preserves and canned foods and refrigerating all home-made foods stored in oil, such as vegetables and herbs.
Symptoms of foodborne botulism typically appear 12 to 36 hours after eating the contaminated food, but onset of the illness can begin as much as 10 days after exposure.
The agency says symptoms can include fatigue, blurred vision, a dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and paralysis that starts in the shoulders and arms and moves down the body.
“Severe cases of botulism can lead to paralysis of the breathing muscles, respiratory or heart failure and death,” states the agency.
The NWT’s public health officer advises anyone who has consumed the pesto and has experienced any of these symptoms to seek medical attention.
Damien Healy, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services, stated in an email that as of Thursday night, no cases of botulism had been reported.