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I've been having a hard time finding out about the health risks, if any, posed by Bacillus contamination. Is it dangerous to sniff? Is it dangerous to eat fruits from contaminated cakes? Is there any point trying to recover contaminated cakes, or have toxins already been released? Thanks all, CJ
The straight dope is this: You eat Bacillus every day in minute amounts. It's on your skin, in your hair, on your clothes, even part of the natural flora in your intenstines. When you have a problem cake/jar the amounts of Bacillus are much, much higher than you normally encounter. Environmental Bacillus are generally benign in terms of toxin production, but two species are known toxin-producers. One of these is anthrax, which you're not going to find in jars, but the other is B. cereus which could very well be. Vomiting and diahrrea are the likely symptoms from cereus 'poisoning'. In addition allergic reactions can occur to just about anything, and the risk is much greater with large amounts of the organism. The big unknown is whether mushroom fruitbodies can/will assimilate these toxins and to what degree. Personally, I think the risk is very small if the patch of bacteria is small and the mycelium has devoured it. But it's only an opinion, not backed by any evidence other than anecdotal. The other significant thing to consider is that a jar with Bacillus contamination could very well have other bacteria present. It's impossible to tell if you have a 'pure' Bacillus problem. Smelling bacterially-contaminated jars does not pose a significant risk, as it might in the case of mold-contaminated jars. As far as whether mushrooms from Bacillus cakes are safe, no one will be able to tell you definitively. Most people have fruited cakes/grain that had a touch of bacterial contamination, and the odds are very good that it is 'safe'. To make a blanket statement that it's always going to be that way would be irresponsible. There are many variables, many species of bacteria [even amongst Bacillus], and the question of 'degree of contamination'.
The best way to deal with the problem is to make several more jars/cakes than you need, and only proceed with the clean ones [obvious, but worth saying].
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