• food poisoning caused by the toxin excreted by Clostridium botulinum, which is a strict spore-forming anaerobe. It can therefore only grow in sealed cans and jars from which air is excluded or rarely in the centre of cooked food. Used to be responsible for deaths when home-bottling of vegetables was common. The toxin is destroyed and made harmless by boiling for a few minutes.


  • noun a type of food poisoning, often fatal, caused by a toxin of Clostridium botulinum in badly canned or preserved food. Symptoms include paralysis of the muscles, vomiting and hallucinations.


  • noun a fatal disease, which is normally associated with food poisoning

Origin & History of “botulism”

The fact that Latin botulus was used metaphorically for ‘intestine’ is in this case just a red herring; its principal meaning was ‘sausage’, and it was the discovery of the food-poisoning germ in cooked meats, such as-sausages, which led to the term botulism. early work on unmasking the bacterium responsible (now known as Clostridium botulinum) was done in Germany, and at first the German form of the word, botulismus, was used in English, but by the late 1880s we find the naturalized botulism fairly well established.