UMaine Cooperative Extension Counsels Caution With Specialty Oils

Contact: Jason Bolton, (207) 942-7396 or

A bottle of flavored or infused oil can be a special homemade holiday gift, and use of such oils in cooking can lend a gourmet touch to a holiday meal. As Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays draw near, Jason Bolton of University of Maine Cooperative Extension is reminding the public about the proper techniques and potential dangers in making, storing and consuming flavored or infused oils.

Bolton, an Extension food safety specialist based in Bangor, said the primary concern for flavored or infused oils is the extremely dangerous microorganism Clostridium botulinum (C. bot), which causes botulism poisoning. Flavored or infused oils contain vegetables, fruits or herbs that can be contaminated with C. bot spores. Oil provides a perfect oxygen-free environment for growth of the microbe.

Among Bolton’s recommendations are to clean, sanitize and thoroughly dry the container and lid that will be used for oil storage, use a good quality oil such as olive or vegetable oil, use dried herbs or garlic, and to be aware of proper heating temperatures for oil or vinegar in the case of flavored or infused acidified oil.

Those making acidified oil should be aware of proper pH levels in order to prevent C. bot spore proliferation.

Contact Bolton for more information about sanitation, storage, and preparations of flavored or infused oils from dried ingredients or acidified oil.