Clostridium botulinum is widely distributed in soils and aquatic sediments around the world. Foodborne botulism, formerly the most common and most severe of the three types of botulism, was first recognized in the late eighteenth century. In the early part of the twentieth century, outbreaks of foodborne botulism were common in the United States, often traceable to commercially canned foods. Strict controls were then placed on commercial canners to ensure adequate sterilizing methods. Since then, outbreaks caused by commercially canned foods have been infrequent. Today, in the United States, intestinal botulism is much more common than foodborne botulism.

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