If the meat is too left out at the counter, we all know that we need to eject it. But what about rice or pasta?
Although Carby's goodness may seem harmless after sitting on the bench for a bit, you will probably think twice about it after hearing about the bacteria Bacillus cereus.
It is not a particularly rare germ. B. cereus will happily live where it can – the soil, food or the intestines.
"Famous natural habitats of B. cereus are widespread, including soil, animals, insects, dust, and plants, "said scientist Alert Anukriti Mathur, a biotechnology researcher at the Australian National University.
"The bacteria will be reproduced using nutrients from foodstuffs [..] including rice, dairy products, spices, dry dishes and vegetables. "
Some types of this bacterium are useful for probiotics, but others may give you a nasty food poisoning if they are given the opportunity to grow and multiply – such as when you feed it in wrong conditions.
The worst case scenario can even bring death.
In 2005, one such case was observed in Journal of Clinical Microbiology – five children in one family got sick from eating a four-day pasta salad.
According to the case study, the pasta salad was prepared on Friday, taken to a picnic on Saturday. Upon returning from the picnic, he was kept in a refrigerator until Monday evening, when the children were fed for dinner.
That night, the children began to vomit and were taken to hospital. Tragically, the youngest child died; another suffered from liver failure, but survived, and others had less severe food poisoning and could be treated with fluids.
"B. cereus is a well-known cause of foodborne illness, but infection with this organism is not usually reported due to its usually mild symptoms, "explains the researchers.
"A fatal case due to liver failure after describing the consumption of salad from pasta and showing the possible severity."
While these deaths are mercifully rare, they are observed in the literature more than once. This week, this news highlighted another old case released in 2011 for a 20-year-old student in Belgium who will prepare his meals this week – in that fateful occasion, it was spaghetti with tomato sauce.
He cooked the pasta five days earlier and heated it with the sauce. That day, he accidentally left the food on the kitchen bench indefinitely. After diarrhea, abdominal pain and profuse vomiting, he died later that night.
The answer to this case study suggested two more cases of young people suffering from the liver and died B. cereus – An 11-year-old boy who died after eating Chinese pasta and a 17-year-old boy who died after eating four-day spaghetti.
Now, before swearing on pasta for life, we should emphasize that most people with whom they get sick B. cereus do not end up with damage to the liver. Usually, it's a fairly mild case of food poisoning.
"It's important to note that B. cereus can cause serious and deadly conditions, such as sepsis, in immunocompromised people, infants, the elderly and pregnant women, "Matur said.
"[Most] affected people improve over time without any treatment. These people do not go to the doctor to get a diagnosis, "and therefore they are reported.
But how can it cause such heavy food poisoning, and is there anything we can do?
B. cereus there is a bad habit of secreting dangerous toxins in food. Some of these toxins are really hard to kill with heat that will deliver your regular microwave oven.
For example, one of the toxins that cause vomiting in humans (called a chemical toxin), can withstand 121 ° C (250 ° F) for 90 minutes. And that's not the only poison you'll find in your arsenal.
"Our immune system recognizes toxin [haemolysin BL] secreted from B. cereus, which leads to an inflammatory response, "explains Matur, speaking about a bacterial research study co-authored last year.
"Our research study shows that toxin targets and punches holes in the cell, causing cell death and inflammation."
Her team also identified two ways in which we can help the body to neutralize the effect of haemolysin BL, thus preventing the death march of B. cereus. The methods include or inhibit the activity of the toxin, or reduce the inflammation caused by it.
Although their approach is still in the early stages of the research, the team hopes that these techniques could be used even in other bacteria that produce toxins, such as Escherichia coli.
But most importantly – keep the food in the fridge and practice good hygiene in the kitchen.
"It is important for people to wash their hands properly and prepare foods according to safety guidelines," Matur says.
"Furthermore, heating left foods will properly destroy most bacteria and their toxins."
The survey is published in Natural microbiology.