By: Heather Williams

Death Wish Coffee of Round Lake, New York has issued a recall for their Nitro Cold Brew cans.  This recall was initiated after a process specialist recommended an additional step to be added to the production process that would improve the safety of the product.  The current processing method could lead to the growth of botulinum, a harmful toxin producing bacterium.

Death Wish Coffee, known for its reputation of being the “World’s Strongest Coffee,” may have unintentionally deadly side-affects.  As a result, the company has issued statements and recalls to mitigate the issue before it because a health concern.

Death Wish Statements

Death Wish issued a statement asking consumers to dispose of the product that they may have, insisting that this is a precautionary measure and asked for their customers cooperation while they improve the product.  The company is asking consumers to bring proof of purchase to the point of purchase for a full refund and if the Death Wish Nitro cans were ordered online, the order will be fully refunded within 60 days.

“Although we’re pretty disappointed, we’d like to thank Cornell for being so rigorous in their testing.  We can only get better.”  Death Wish Coffee company addressed their fans and consumers on their website on a dedicated page for the Safety Recall:

They explained that the production process needed improvement and that they have been given guidance from “some of the most meticulous scientists in the world,” ensuring customers that when the product becomes available again, it will be safe and better than before.

The following disclaimer can be found on the company’s website:

Death Wish has undergone a rigorous, lengthy process with an independent, process authority to test the shelf life, stability and safety of the Nitro Cold Brew coffee. After almost four months of ongoing tests, the Nitro Cold Brew has shown no degradation of quality or shelf stability at all. However, in order to ensure industry-leading safety of Death Wish’s cold brew products, a recommendation has been made to add a further step in the manufacturing process behind the Nitro Cold Brew. Nitrogen-infused coffee is a fairly new process, in which at the moment, there are few federal standards and regulations through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With any nitrogen-based products on the market, there is a remote possibility of the risk of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), a serious pathogen that can lead to the growth and production of the deadly toxin, botulin, in low acid foods commercialized in reduced oxygen packaging. “Our customers’ safety is of paramount importance and Death Wish Coffee is taking this significant, proactive step to ensure that the highest quality, safest, and of course, strongest coffee products we produce are of industry-exceeding standards – thus we are taking this measure of recalling all Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew cans from shelves. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause our customers and our retail partners, but we believe this is the right precautionary measure to take.” said Mike Brown, founder/owner, Death Wish Coffee. Death Wish intends to fully exceed industry standards as it relates to nitrogen-based products, thus halting production of Nitro Cold Brew until this additional step in the manufacturing process is implemented. The company has passed all FDA and state inspections since its founding. Nitro Canned Cold Brew cans have been removed from the company’s online store, in addition to it has been pulled from shelves at Price Chopper/Market 32, Healthy Living Market & Café, and independent retailers at the behest of Death Wish.”

The company has provided contact information for press inquiries at [email protected] and all other questions or concerns can be directed to [email protected] or toll free at 1-844-303-2290.

What is Botulism?

Botulism is the rare, but serious, illness caused by the toxin created by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.  Sometimes the bacteria Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii are responsible for Botulism as well.  This toxin attacks the body’s nerves resulting in symptoms of muscle paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even death.  Generally, the bacteria and resulting toxin is spread by food, but there are other means of transmission of this harmful bacterium.

Generally, the bacteria are found in spore form.  This is a tightly bound structure meant to protect the bacteria from extreme environments.  These spores do not usually make people sick and do not produce that nasty toxin.  However, under certain conditions the spores wake up and shed their protective coatings.  The awakened bacteria are able to live and thrive and make those toxins which cause severe illness.

Conditions favorable to Clostridium botulinum growth and development include low or no oxygen environments, environments with low acid, low sugar, and low salt contents.  Additionally, particular amounts of hydration and temperatures are more favorable to the bacterial growth and awakening from the spore phase.

The canned coffee in Death Wish Nitro provides an ideal environment for Clostridium botulinum bacteria to grow and thrive, potentially exposing consumers to the extremely harmful toxin produced.

Improperly home-canned, preserved, or fermented foods provide ideal environments for Clostridium botulinum.  Without prompt and proper medical treatment, an infected individual could become seriously ill, or even die from toxin exposure.

What Are the Symptoms of Botulism Poisoning?

While symptoms can begin anywhere from 6 hours or up to 10 days after consuming contaminated foods, though foodborne botulism symptoms generally appear within 18 to 36 hours.  Typical symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, and drooping eyelids.  Muscle weakness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, a thick-feeling tongue and dry mouth may occur.

Infants and small children have difficulty communicating illness symptoms and generally present as lethargy or feeling poorly.  They may be constipated, have a weak cry, and appear “floppy” due to poor muscle tone.

Symptoms are derived from the muscle paralysis caused by the toxin.  Treatment is necessary for recovery.  Without treatment, symptoms will worsen and cause complete paralysis of certain muscles, including the arms, legs, and torso.  In severe cases, the muscles used for breathing may also be affected, causing a life-threatening reaction.  It is important to note that the toxin works around the body and an infected person may not show all symptoms at the same time.

If you feel you may be infected, seek medical attention immediately.  Go to the emergency room and notify your health care provider of the potential health advisory.  Symptoms of botulinum poisoning are similar to those of Guillain-Barre syndrome, stroke, myasthenia gravis, and opioid overdose.  If the infected person does not suspect botulism as a cause of illness, several tests can be performed to rule out other illness.

Once diagnosed, an antitoxin can be administered.  This drug prevents the toxin from attacking the body’s nerves but does not heal the existing damage the toxin has already inflicted.  The body will heal slowly, but some paralysis may be permanent and long-term health problems may persist.  Most deaths associated with botulism poisoning involve respiratory issues resulting in lung paralysis.  Prior to the medical availability of antitoxin, 50 out of every 100 affected people would die.  Now, only 5 out of every 100 affected people die.