If the meat stays on the counter for too long, we all know that we need to throw it away. But what about rice or pasta?
Despite the fact that this sweetness may seem harmless, if you sit on the bench for a while, you will probably think about it twice when you hear about the bacteria. Bacillus cereus,
This is not a particularly rare microbe. B. cereus will be happy to live where it can – soil, food or in the intestines.
"Known natural habitats B. cereus they are extensive, including soil, animals, insects, dust and plants, ”explained Anukriti Matur, a science researcher at biotechnology at Australian National University, Science Alert.
"Bacteria will multiply using nutrients from food [..] including rice, dairy products, spices, dried foods and vegetables. "
Some strains of this bacterium are useful for probiotics, but others can cause unpleasant attacks of food poisoning if they are given the opportunity to grow and multiply, for example, when you store food in the wrong conditions.
The worst scenarios can even lead to death.
In 2005, one such case was recorded in Journal of Clinical Microbiology – five children in the same family fell ill from eating four-day pasta salad.
According to the study, pasta salad was cooked on Friday and on a picnic on Saturday. After returning from a picnic, he was kept in a refrigerator until Monday evening, when the children were fed him for lunch.
That night, the children started vomiting, and they were taken to hospital. Tragically, the youngest child died; the other suffered from liver failure, but survived, while others had less serious food poisoning and could be treated with fluids.
"B. cereus – This is a well-known cause of foodborne illness, but this infection is usually not reported because of its usually mild symptoms, ”the researchers explain.
"A fatal case due to liver failure after eating pasta salad, which demonstrates the possible seriousness, is described."
Although these deaths, fortunately, are rare, they have been recorded in the literature more than once. This week the news covered another old case, published in 2011, about a 20-year-old student in Belgium who cooked his own food for a week – in that fatal case it was spaghetti with tomato sauce.
He cooked pasta five days ago and heated it along with the sauce. That day, he accidentally left his food on the kitchen bench indefinitely. After diarrhea, abdominal pain and heavy vomiting, he died that night.
In response to this study, two more cases were identified in which young people suffered from liver failure and died from B. cereus – The 11-year-old who died after eating Chinese noodles, and the 17-year-old who died after eating four days of spaghetti.
Now, before you give up pasta for life, we must emphasize that most people who are sick B. cereus Do not end up having liver failure. This is usually a fairly mild case of food poisoning.
“It is important to note that B. cereus "can cause severe and fatal conditions, such as sepsis, in immunocompromised people, babies, the elderly, and pregnant women," Mathur says.
"[Most] Affected people recover over time without any treatment. These people do not go to the doctor for diagnosis, and therefore they are not reported.
But how can this cause such a serious food poisoning, and can we do something?
B. cereus has a bad habit of releasing dangerous toxins in food. Some of these toxins are really hard to kill with the heat that your regular microwave oven delivers.
For example, one of the toxins that causes vomiting in humans (called vomiting toxin) can withstand 121 ° C (250 ° F) for 90 minutes. And this is not the only toxin that you find in his arsenal.
"Our immune system recognizes toxin [haemolysin BL] secreted B. cereus"This leads to an inflammatory reaction," explains Mathur, speaking of the study of the bacterium, which she co-authored last year.
"Our scientific study shows that the toxin is targeted and punches holes in the cell, causing cell death and inflammation."
Her team also identified two ways in which we can help the body neutralize the effect of BL hemolysin, thereby stopping the death march B. cereusThe 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 research, the team hopes that these methods can even be used in other toxin-producing bacteria, such as E. coli,
But most importantly – keep food in the refrigerator and follow the rules of hygiene in the kitchen.
“It’s important for people to properly wash their hands and prepare food in accordance with safety regulations,” says Mathur.
"In addition, proper heating of food debris will destroy most bacteria and their toxins."
The study was published in Nature microbiology,