Market shopper in terrifying health battle after eating popular condiment

Life is no longer the same for Doralice.

A woman who was left paralysed after eating pesto that was allegedly contaminated has recounted her ordeal. Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes was first hospitalised in January 2022 after buying a jar of the product from a local market and using it for a meal a few weeks later.

Not long after eating the pesto, the 47-year-old fell ill and rushed herself to hospital. "The pesto didn't have an expiration date," Ms Goes, a public servant from Brazil told, adding that she was given storage instructions for the item.

"I left the market and kept the sauce in the pantry until I eventually used it. The pesto remained with unchanged appearance, colour, aroma, and flavour. When I decided to finally have some, it was delicious,"

Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes smiling; and unconscious in hospital bed after eating contaminated pesto
Contaminated pesto is believed to be the cause of Doralice's health battle. Source: Jam Press

The next day, Ms Goes slept for 11 hours straight. "My body didn't feel right, my breathing had gotten worse, and my tongue felt like it was tingling," she explained.

Ms Goes bought the sauce on 31 December 2021 from a store where she had shopped before but didn't use it until 23 January 2022. After falling ill and driving to the hospital, her symptoms worsened.

'My body stopped working'

"I drove 20km to the hospital, parked the car, and then my body stopped working. I couldn't move my body, so I threw myself out the car," she said. "It was then I saw an employee with a wheelchair, so I shouted, to which they then came over and helped me into it. I was rushed in for a CT scan but during the exam, I struggled with my breathing and vomiting."

Doctors believed toxins had reached Ms Goe's nervous system. During an exam with a neurologist, she realised that her body would not respond to commands — she was only able to move two toes. She was diagnosed with botulism, a rare illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body's nerves and can cause difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis and death.

Source of toxin

"I was quickly given an anti-botulinum drug, which is meant to be taken within 48 hours so the drug can act on the bacteria. I soon was able to move my fingers and speak small sentences again. I was also given physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles in my body," she explained.

Trying to find the source of the toxin, doctors asked Ms Goes to tell them what she had eaten recently and eventually discovered the pesto was the most likely cause of the issue. "It was one of the only things I had recently eaten, plus, it was homemade. It seemed that a bacteria had formed in the pesto, which contained a toxin," she said.

A year in hospital

While she survived the ordeal, Ms Goes had to remain in hospital for a year for recovery and rehabilitation. "I had treatments every day of the week. From myofascial release to analgesia, laser, suction cup, pilates to recover muscular tone, strengthening and pulmonary physiotherapy," she recounted.

Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes in hospital bed after eating contaminated pesto; and smiling after treatment
Doralice says she is determined to overcome the difficulties she now faces. Source: Jam Press

"I was also given dry compressions and electroshocks to relieve chronic pain. When I got more strength in my upper body, I also adapted to playing table tennis."

After months of tests, feeding tubes, rehabilitation and a lot of hard work, Ms Goes was recently released from the hospital. "I have been breathing without help for nine months, which is a good sign. I can now urinate by myself and feed myself. I have the help of a walker to help me get around, but it is still hard," she explained.

New approach to food

As for her new meal plan, she is now extra cautious of where she purchases her food. She added: "I'm careful when buying from restaurants, shops, fairs. I now only like to buy food from manufacturers to avoid any more accidents."

As for the shop owner, Ms Goes claims the state health surveillance department visited the store to check what conditions the homemade pesto was made in. According to the case study, the store owner apologised for the incident but no further action has been taken at this stage.


Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.