Dangerous bacteria can sometimes slip into a simple dish of pasta. Dr. Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens, explains to us how this “Cantonese rice” syndrome manifests itself.
How can we imagine that a simple dish of pasta or rice could be deadly? A young Belgian of 20 years old, however, paid the price, after consuming tomato spaghetti left in the open air for several days. A little-known food poisoning called “Cantonese rice” or “fried rice” syndrome.
The dough dish was 5 days old
As the Journal of Clinical Microbiology reveals, the young Belgian fell ill after consuming tomato spaghetti, cooked five days previously and left in the kitchen at room temperature.
However, shortly after this meal, headaches, nausea and abdominal pain appeared; quickly accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. In the early morning, the student’s body was found lifeless.
The autopsy, carried out 5 days later, revealed that the young Belgian had suffered from necrosis in the liver and colon, but also from potential acute pancreatitis.
The Bacillus cereus bacteria was identified in the young boy’s fecal samples but also in the pasta dish ingested.
For the Belgian doctors in charge of this case, there is no doubt: “B. cereus is the most likely cause of this fatal outcome“.
A bacteria that grows in rice, pasta, vegetables or potatoes
“It is a bacteria that grows in rice, vegetables, cereals and even spices; when these foods are left at room temperature. If consumed, it can lead to poisoning.“, warns Dr. Kierzek.
The problem ? If these infections are infrequent, with around 5 cases per million inhabitants per year in Europe, and generally benign, the bacteria “resist heat very well“, warns the medical director of TipsForWomens. They can thus develop in foods between 4°C and 45°C. Hence its name, “fried rice syndrome”: cooking does not destroy the toxins.
“In fact, it is appropriate to be particularly vigilant in the face of potential symptoms“, emphasizes Dr. Kierzek.
Bacillus cereus: precautions to take to avoid it
The right attitude to adopt? “Do not leave food lying around at room temperature, eat it quickly and keep your supplies below 4 degrees“, warns Dr. Kierzek.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty also recommends, on its website, to “respect the use-by date, respect the cold chain, wash and peel fruits, vegetables and aromatic herbs in the refrigerator, store raw foods separately from others to avoid contamination, clean the refrigerator regularly with bleach, and finally wash your hands, work surfaces and utensils after contact with raw food to avoid contamination of healthy foods.”