Everyone has experienced pause staring at the shriveled hot dogs and questionable sandwiches on sale at gas stations for desperately hungry travelers. But it's rare such iffy food actually kills someone.
Unfortunately, a father of two succumbed to his gas station food craving when he contracted botulism from nacho cheese sauce sold at a Sacramento County, California, station.
Tests from the California Department of Public Health confirmed the nacho cheese sauce contained botulism. Once the bacteria goes in a person’s system, it leads to painful conditions, including double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness
And that is exactly what happened with Martin Galindo.
The 37-year-old was hospitalized after consuming nacho cheese fries from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas that contained botulism. He was eventually taken off life support after two weeks of being in coma, his family confirmed.
A GoFundMe page was set to help with the expenses.
Nine other people also suffered from food-borne disease and were hospitalized. A mother of three had to be rushed to the intensive care unit.
In 2015, around 200 people were affected by botulism in the United States, but only 39 of those cases were from the food-borne version.
Botulism can also occur in infants and be transmitted via injuries or wounds. On an average, between 3 and 5 percent of people affected die from the poison, which starts by paralyzing facial nerves, the mouth and the throat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacterium is most often linked to home-canned foods that are short of proper hygienic procedures.
“While there are still unanswered questions about this outbreak, these tragic illnesses are important reminders to be vigilant about food safety,” said Dr. Karen Smith, a state public health officer and the director of CDPH. “As we head into the summer barbecue season, both indoor and outdoor chefs need to be on guard against all food-borne illnesses.”
According to the CDPH health officials, the gas station stopped selling the toxin-containing cheese sauce on May 5 and officials believe there’s no further public risk.