Martin Galindo and the Deathly Nachos

Jasmine Davis, Staff Reporter

Beginning last month and stretching until now, California residents have been victimized with several cases of botulism due to nacho cheese sauce.

The outbreak began in Walnut Grove, California at Valley Oak gas station, causing several to fall ill after eating the contaminated cheese.

While rare, the outbreak of botulism toxin left ten people ill, and hospitalized each of them.  The deadly nachos also claimed the life of one of those unfortunate people.

A Valley Oak food and fuel gas station has had several batches of nacho cheese sauce confiscated on May 5th, that has now been tested positive for the illness. The California Department of Public Health made a public statement that they feel there is no continuing threat to the public.

But one victim paid the ultimate price for sketchy gas station food.

Martin Galindo, who had been in the hospital for several weeks, has passed away from complications caused by botulism. He had been on a ventilator and eventually fell into a coma-tic state and did not wake up.

His family started a GoFundMe page in his honor, to request help with hospital bills and now burial costs.

While botulism is a rare occurrence now, it clearly still affects some. The US Department of Agriculture responded to this by posting a detailed list of safety precautions to steer clear of this painful and sometimes fatal illness.

Botulism attacks the nervous system, causing blurry vision, slurred speech, paralysis and difficulty breathing and if not caught fast, even death such as in Mr.Galindo`s case.

Botulism is usually connected to home canned goods, although as in this case it can be found in retail products and can clearly have serious effects if distributed widely before it is recognized.

And as we head into the summer months the USDA and Centers for Disease Control want to be sure we are all safe and well. They recommend the following:

  • Store canned food at 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit before opening.
  • For home-canned goods, use the food within one year after canning.
  • Don’t use cans that are swollen, cracked or squirt liquid or foam when you open them.
  • Boil foods low in acid for 10 minutes before eating. These foods include asparagus, beets, green beans, potatoes, some tomatoes, seafood and meat. High temperature will inactivate the toxin.

For retail products, store oils infused with garlic, chili sauces and canned cheeses in the refrigerator. And don’t use them after their expiration dates.