I had just scarfed down some leftover pasta myself and began to panic slightly as I read this story about a 20 year old student from Brussels Belgium who died after eating leftover pasta cooked just the day before!
The pasta I had was from two nights before but the difference was in the storage.
This case was originally reported in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Recently, however, a YouTuber who goes by the name Dr. Bernard posted a video on the case, putting it back in the headlines and making the story go viral.
Here’s the tragic news in a nutshell: After returning home from school one day, the man (identified as AJ in the YouTube video) heated some leftover pasta left on the kitchen counter in his microwave, had it for dinner, and then headed out to play sports.
Just half an hour later, he returned home complaining of a massive headache, severe abdominal pain, and nausea.
He vomited a few times but simply assumed he had a virus or a case of food poisoning, so he went to bed to try to sleep it off. His parents found his lifeless body the next morning when he didn’t get up for class.
AJ did have food poisoning, but it was much more serious than most cases. An autopsy revealed it was caused by a spore-forming bacteria called bacillus cereus.
Belgium’s National Reference Laboratory for Foodborne Outbreaks examined samples of the pasta and tomato sauce that took the otherwise healthy man’s life. Turns out there were enough toxins from all the bacteria in the leftovers that they likely caused his liver to fail which was the cause of his untimely demise.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you can never eat your lovely leftovers again. If AJ would have put his pasta in the fridge within two hours after they were originally cooked, he might still be alive today.
If food is to be stored longer than 2 hours keep hot foods hot over 140 degrees and cold foods cold at 40 degrees F or lower in covered, wide, shallow containers.
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