Possible equipment failure while canning tuna

Asked August 15, 2019, 5:00 PM EDT

We were canning albacore tuna last Thursday and Saturday, pints and half pints, 100min at 11#. Yesterday, the guy that owns the pressure canners said he thought some of the canned tuna didn't quite look right. So he took the canners in to be checked and found out that one of the guages was not registering correctly. The pressure was lower than what it displayed.
My question is this: Not knowing which jars were in the faulty canner is there any way of telling which ones are under processed and can they be salvaged (ie. put them in a 350°oven for 30 minutes to an internal temp of 185) ? Or do we need to bite the bullet and dispose of all of them just to be on the safe side? Or should we wait a few months and see if there are signs of spoilage? Does cooking at 350 destroy botulism and other bacteria to make the tuna safe to eat?
Thanks for your help

Clatsop County Oregon

1 Response

It would be very risky to eat your tuna at this stage not knowing which jars are under processed. Botulism toxin can start to form in under processed fish within 2-3 days. Botulism toxin is odorless, colorless and tasteless so often shows no signs of spoilage but it is very toxic. The heating does destroy the toxin however because it takes so little to make you VERY ill it is risky to just think the heating method will destroy all the toxin especially in the quantity of fish you indicate you canned. Then there is the chance of cross contamination just removing the fish from the jars.

It also puts up a red flag that the guy that owns the canner says he thought some of the jars didn’t look right. This indicates that something else might be wrong with the way it was canned.

I know it is heart breaking to destroy all your fish and hard work but it is better to be safe than sorry. Botulism is one food poisoning I would not want to wish on anyone.

Here is the method recommended for detoxifying under processed fish that is recommended by the National Center for Food Preservation.

Detoxification process Wear rubber or heavy plastic gloves when handling suspect foods and cleaning up. Remove the jar lids and carefully place the suspect jars on their sides without splashing (along with the lids) in a large pot. Wash your gloved hands well. Carefully add water until the level is 1 inch above the jars. Put a lid on the pot and heat the water to boiling. Boil for 30 minutes to detoxify the food. Cool and discard the containers, lids and food in the trash or dispose in a nearby landfill. Spray or wet contaminated surfaces and equipment with a house-hold chlorine bleach solution (1 part unscented 5% to 6% sodium hypochlorite bleach to 5 parts clean, room-temperature water) and let stand for 30 minutes. Wipe up treated spills with paper towels and put them in a plastic bag before discarding in the trash. Repeat the process and then rinse all surfaces. Finally, thoroughly wash all detoxified sur-faces and items. Discard gloves when the cleaning process is complete.

If you have other questions relating to food preservation please call the OSU Food Preservation Hotline open M-F from 9 am-4 pm until mid-October. The number is 1-800-354-7318.

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Nellie Oehler