If the meat is left on the counter for too long, we all know it has to be discarded. But how about rice or pasta?
Although this coal industry may seem harmless after you sit on the bench a little, you may think twice about it when you hear about bacteria Bacillus cereus.
It is not a very rare germ. B. cereus will be happy to live wherever possible – soil, food or gut.
"Known natural habitats B. cereus has a wide spectrum, including soil, animals, insects, dust and plants, ”explained Anatrit Mathur, a National University biotechnology researcher at the Australian National University.
"Bacteria will multiply by using nutrients from foods [..] including rice, dairy products, spices, dried foods and vegetables. "
Some strains of this bacterium are useful for probiotics, while others can give you unpleasant food poisoning if you are able to grow and reproduce – for example, by storing food in the wrong conditions.
Worst scenarios can even lead to death.
One such case was registered in 2005 Clinical Microbiology Journal – five children in one family had a four-day-old pasta salad.
According to the case study, pasta salad was prepared on Friday, on a picnic. After returning from the picnic, it was stored in the refrigerator until Monday evening when the children were fed for dinner.
That night, the children started vomiting and went to the hospital. Tragically, the youngest child died; another suffered from liver failure, but survived, and the others had less food poisoning and could be treated with liquids.
"B. cereus is a well-known cause of food-borne diseases, but the infection with this organism is usually not reported as it is usually a mild symptom, ”the researchers explain.
"A fatal case of liver failure is described after consumption of pasta salad and indicates a potential severity."
Although these deaths are rarely rare, they have been recorded more than once in the literature. This week, the news showed another old case published in 2011 for a 20-year-old student in Belgium who prepared her meal for a week – in this fateful case it was a spaghetti with tomato sauce.
He prepared the pasta five days earlier and warmed it up with the sauce. On that day he accidentally left his kitchen on the kitchen bench. After diarrhea, abdominal pain and severe vomiting he died later that night.
The answer to this case study showed two more cases of young people suffering from liver failure and dead B. cereus – An 11-year-old who died after eating Chinese noodles and a 17-year-old who died after four days of spaghetti.
Now, before we swear to life, we have to emphasize that the majority of people with illness B. cereus does not end with liver failure. Usually it is a rather mild case of food poisoning.
"It's important to note B. cereus can cause severe and deadly conditions such as sepsis, people who have an immune system, infants, the elderly, and pregnant women, ”says Mathur.
"[Most] affected individuals improve over time without any treatment. These individuals do not see the doctor for the diagnosis, ”and they are therefore reported.
But how can this cause such severe food poisoning, and is there anything we can do?
B. cereus is a bad habit to release dangerous toxins in food. Some of these toxins are really hard to kill with the heat that your regular microwave oven will deliver.
For example, one of the toxins that cause vomiting in humans (called emetic toxin) can withstand 121 ° C (250 ° F) for 90 minutes. And this is not the only toxin you will find in your arsenal.
"Our immune system recognizes the toxin [haemolysin BL] is released B. cereus, which leads to an inflammatory reaction, ”explains Mathur, about research on bacteria that he co-authored last year.
"Our study shows that toxin targets and perforates cells in cells, causing cell death and inflammation."
Her team also identified two ways we can help the body neutralize the effects of hemolysin BL, thus stopping the process of death. B. cereus. The methods include either blocking the activity of the toxin or reducing the inflammation caused by it.
Although their approach is still in the early stages of the study, the group hopes that these methods can also be used in other toxin-producing bacteria, such as E. coli.
But most importantly – keep your food in the refrigerator and practice good kitchen hygiene.
"It's important that people wash their hands properly and prepare food according to safety guidelines," says Mathur.
"In addition, the food left over from the surplus will destroy most of the bacteria and their toxins."
The study has been published Microbiology of nature.