risk of botulism?


made an account just to ask this because it is making me worry and driving me crazy.

made a yeast starter/biga this sunday with a chunk of dough from a no-knead bread i was making. i watched a video (channel is 'glen and friends cooking') and it said i could save a piece to make bread another day and that treating it like a sourdough starter will make it eventually turn "sour". obviously not a sourdough starter. i added about 3 tablespoons of water and flour, and have it in a glass bowl with a glass lid (lid is not airtight, fits losely), and have had it in the corner of my kitchen counter.

it is now friday, i've been feeding/removing about every other day since sunday, just because i'm lazy and forget to feed it every single day. i'm not precise with the feeding, i just take out and add equal parts. it hasn't really grown or fluffed up but it does bubble quite a bit. it is also making a lot of hooch which i just stir back in. it smells good (beery and sweet), isn't a weird color, and overall looks fine and normal.

yesterday, thursday morning, i decided to make some pancakes with some of it. my mom was a little weirded out about it but i assured her it would be fine. we all ate them and they were delicious, but i started worrying if maybe it could have had botulism. is this even possible with the hooch and the lose lid? is the ph acidic enough to stop it from growing? i just need some reassurance that it's fine and i'm just overreacting.

201 users have voted.


Travis L 2020 April 6

You are fine.  

1) Clostridium botulinum grows in anaerobic conditions (without oyxgen) ie. canned vegetables.  Sourdough starter is most certainly aerobic.

2) Botulinum toxin is inactivated by heat (cooking pancakes)

3) Unless you are under 6 months older, your digestive tract can handle spores and you are not at risk of botulism from oral inestion. 

4) If you had botulism, you would already be paralyzed by now. 



idullic 2020 April 8
thank you for the reassurance!! i've made a new starter anyway just because my anxiety got the better of me and made me throw away my previous one, but from talking to others i now see that botulism isn't really a big concern when it comes to starter :~) thank you again!
BGross 2020 April 8

Also new here and enjoying reading.

Thanks, Travis L., for the reminder of the good times had in my microbiology studies many decades ago!

indeed, if C. botulinum was available in starter there would likely be a whole cottage industry of Home Botox Parties - people injecting starter into their already-doughy faces, trying to slow the spread of sour expressions.

(Back to lurking.)


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