In a case that has been highlighted by Dr Bernard on YouTube, a student with poor knowledge of hygiene ended up dying in his sleep after eating 5-day-old pasta.
Unnamed in case reports, the 20-year-old student used to prepare his meals for the week on a Sunday in an attempt to save time and money.
He would boil pasta and then put it into Tupperware containers to be eaten during the week after adding a sauce and reheating it, according to Dr Bernard.
The student, from Belgium, reheated spaghetti that had been prepared five days prior and left in the kitchen at room temperature, according to a case study in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. He attributed the odd taste to the new tomato sauce he put on his spaghetti, ate it all and headed out to play sports.
Within 30 minutes of eating the pasta, he was experiencing intense abdominal pain, nausea, and a headache. After returning home, he immediately had intense episodes of watery diarrhea and vomited profusely, but did not seek medical attention and instead chose to stay in his house, drink water, and try to sleep it off.
The next morning his parents were worried when he didn’t get out of bed for college. When they went in to check on him at 11am, he was already dead.
Examination of his body revealed he had died at 4am, roughly 10 hours after he ate the spaghetti. His body was autopsied whilst samples of his pasta and pasta sauce were sent off to the National Reference Laboratory for Food-borne Outbreaks (NRLFO) for analysis.
The autopsy revealed liver necrosis, indicating his liver had shut down, as well as possible signs of acute pancreatitis. Fecal swabs revealed the presence of Bacillus cereus, a bacteria responsible for “fried rice syndrome”, food poisoning commonly caused by leaving fried rice dishes sitting at room temperature for several hours.
The sample of his meal sent to the NRLFO contained significant amounts of Bacillus cereus, confirming the pasta meal was the cause of his illness, leading to his eventual death just hours later.
Bacillus cereus poisoning is surprisingly common. In 2003 a family became extremely ill with Bacillus cereus-associated food poisoning after eating 8-day-old pasta salad during a picnic.
All five children required medical intervention and needed intensive care, whilst the youngest girl, who was 7 years old, died after her liver failed.