With all of it's vitamins and minerals, drinking carrot juice regularly has tremendous health benefits. But like any other food source, there are certain risk factors that can and should be considered at all costs. One of those health risks is Botulism, or Botulinus Intoxication, a rare but extremely serious illness attributed to the botulin toxin. Botulin toxin is one of the most lethal toxins for humans, where just a microgram of it can be deadly. This poisonous bacteria produced toxin disrupts regular nerve functions within the body, and can lead to musculoskeletal or respiratory paralysis. It is especially deadly for infants and seniors, or anyone else with a weakened or otherwise inhibited immune system. Please take the following precautions below when drinking or preparing fresh carrot juice.
While I have never contracted Botulism myself from consuming store bought unpasteurized carrot juice, I did contract a severe stomach flu from consuming bacteria tainted carrot juice, and I eventually ended up spending a night in the hospital hooked up to an IV. Obviously from that point forward, I vowed never again to purchase store bought unpasteurized carrot juice, regardless of the fact that I had purchased it from an extremely clean and reputable health food store. Once you experience the downside of drinking unpasteurized store bought beverages regardless of how healthy they are, you quickly realize that the health benefits simply aren't worth the potential health risks involved with drinking it.
The first major step towards minimizing any risk of carrot juice contamination, is only drink fresh carrot juice that you have made yourself in the comfort of your own home. With my bad experience in mind, I now go out of my way to encourage everyone I know to simply stop buying fresh squeezed store bought carrot juice, as it can be quickly and easily prepared from home, where you can make sure the carrots being used are fresh, clean, and sterile. The cleanliness of your juice machine can also be maintained by you, giving you the peace of mind that all precautionary steps have been take to ensure you are not drinking a tainted beverage.
The next major risk reducing step in home carrot juicing, is have a high standard when picking and choosing which produce to buy. Obviously you will never want to juice bruised, unfresh, old, or otherwise damaged carrots. These sorts of conditions create a breeding ground within your veggies by which bacteria can rapidly flourish. Juicing only ripe fresh carrots will dramatically reduce the chances of contamination. I personally take it one step further, and grow my own organic carrots, that way I know exactly how the carrots were grown. Growing carrots in a home garden is cheap, healthy, and it can even be a fun experience.
The third major factor in reducing carrot contamination, is thoroughly wash and rinse your carrots before juicing them. Never cut or peel a vegetable without washing it thoroughly beforehand, as even the smallest cut into an unwashed carrot can further spread unwanted bacteria. I use an always sterile scrub brush when cleaning my carrots. I generally clean them under cool running tap water, however if they have a large amount of soil on them, I will scrub them under warm water, and then let them soak in cool water before juicing so that the fresh juice itself isn't warm. When I am done scrubbing the carrots, I always sterilize my brush and then let it dry. Also, do not ever use soap when cleaning your carrots, as it can leave a residue which can make you sick.
Lastly, to avoid any contamination of you carrot juice, be sure to properly store it in an air tight container placed into the refrigerator. Carrot juice left unrefrigerated for long periods of time will accumulate the same amount of bacteria as any other unrefrigerated juice. I generally will only juice enough carrots needed for immediate consumption. If however you have an excess amount, only store it for 24 hours maximum, and then discard any leftover amount after that time frame. On the rare occasion that I do store it in the refrigerator, I will stir into it several tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice, which will prevent any quick oxidization of the juice, and help it keep that fresh squeezed taste much longer.
With all of that said above, please do not feel discouraged from consuming carrot juice. If you juice it yourself using a clean and sterile environment, the risk of drinking contaminated juice is extremely small, akin to the risks we all take each and every time we consume any type of fruit or vegetable. I know many lifelong carrot juice drinkers who have never experienced a single incident after decades of drinking the beverage, however the key to that is they only drink what they have juiced themselves. If you own a juice shop, and are disheartened by our advice here, we do apologize, however the health and safety of our readers is important, and we want everyone to be able to enjoy the benefits of carrot juice, while minimizing all health risks. We thank you all for taking the time to read this, if you have any further question don't hesitate to drop us an email.