Man, 20, found dead after eating reheated pasta dish

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By Kim Novak

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A man has tragically died after eating a bowl of reheated pasta and falling extremely ill shortly afterward.

The 20-year-old student from Brussels, Belgium - known as AJ - had made the spaghetti dish in tomato sauce five days earlier but had left it in the kitchen at room temperature, according to reports.

He had reheated the dish in the microwave after returning from lessons, eaten it, and then headed out to play sports.

However, he returned home just half an hour later after complaining of a headache, stomach pains, and nausea, and soon became violently ill.

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Food that's not refrigerated soon after it cools can harbor dangerous bacteria. Credit: Getty Images

A case report published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology revealed that AJ began vomiting "profusely for several hours" and had two episodes of "watery diarrhea" around midnight.

AJ is thought to have fallen asleep shortly afterward, and his "worried" parents went to check on him at around 11AM the following morning after knowing he hadn't been well the night before.

Tragically, they found their son dead, with legal examination determining he likely passed away at around 4AM, around 10 hours after he ate the reheated pasta.

An autopsy was conducted five days after his death, which revealed that he had suspected food poisoning caused by the Bacillus cereus bacteria.

His organs are believed to have shut down due to moderate centrilobular liver necrosis, however, his exact cause of death was difficult to determine due to the delay with the autopsy.

The authors of the report added: "The spaghetti had been kept at room temperature for several days. This allowed Bacillus cereus to grow to very high concentrations and produced the high toxin concentration (14.8 μg/g) found in the pasta and which is likely responsible for the fatal outcome."

AJ's death tragically occurred in 2008 and was first reported in 2011, but has resurfaced recently after several TikTok videos went viral warning of the dangers of "fried rice syndrome".

Fried rice syndrome refers to food poisoning caused by eating reheated foods that have been improperly stored, causing bacteria to build up.

Though the name implies the most dangerous item is rice, there are actually many foods that can cause the same issues if not stored or heated correctly.

Uncooked foods can contain Bacillus cereus spores, that can survive when the meal is cooked, and which can multiply and grow into bacteria if the food is left at room temperature.

If eaten, the toxins in the food will usually cause the person to get sick between one and six hours later (but can appear later as well), with the most common symptoms being vomiting and diarrhea - and it is possible to get one or the other individually, or both at the same time.

wp-image-1263228386 size-full
While most people will just have a rough few days of vomiting and diarrhea, food poisoning can be fatal in extreme cases. Credit: Getty Images

Rice, pasta, and potatoes, as well as dairy, sauces, meat, and fish, can all cause food poisoning, and the likelihood of bacteria contaminating the dish rises the longer cooked food is left at room temperature.

While most people will just have a pretty rough day or two with food poisoning, in extreme cases such as AJ's, it can also be fatal.

The NHS advises that rice be served soon after it is cooked, or be cooled and refrigerated as quickly as possible - ideally within an hour.

Rice should be kept in the fridge for no longer than a day before reheating, it should only be reheated once, and must be checked to be steaming hot all the way through before eating.

While most cases of food poisoning pass over within a day or two, approximately 3,000 people in the US die from foodborne illnesses each year according to the CDC.

Featured image credit: Getty Images

Man, 20, found dead after eating reheated pasta dish

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

A man has tragically died after eating a bowl of reheated pasta and falling extremely ill shortly afterward.

The 20-year-old student from Brussels, Belgium - known as AJ - had made the spaghetti dish in tomato sauce five days earlier but had left it in the kitchen at room temperature, according to reports.

He had reheated the dish in the microwave after returning from lessons, eaten it, and then headed out to play sports.

However, he returned home just half an hour later after complaining of a headache, stomach pains, and nausea, and soon became violently ill.

wp-image-1263228385 size-full
Food that's not refrigerated soon after it cools can harbor dangerous bacteria. Credit: Getty Images

A case report published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology revealed that AJ began vomiting "profusely for several hours" and had two episodes of "watery diarrhea" around midnight.

AJ is thought to have fallen asleep shortly afterward, and his "worried" parents went to check on him at around 11AM the following morning after knowing he hadn't been well the night before.

Tragically, they found their son dead, with legal examination determining he likely passed away at around 4AM, around 10 hours after he ate the reheated pasta.

An autopsy was conducted five days after his death, which revealed that he had suspected food poisoning caused by the Bacillus cereus bacteria.

His organs are believed to have shut down due to moderate centrilobular liver necrosis, however, his exact cause of death was difficult to determine due to the delay with the autopsy.

The authors of the report added: "The spaghetti had been kept at room temperature for several days. This allowed Bacillus cereus to grow to very high concentrations and produced the high toxin concentration (14.8 μg/g) found in the pasta and which is likely responsible for the fatal outcome."

AJ's death tragically occurred in 2008 and was first reported in 2011, but has resurfaced recently after several TikTok videos went viral warning of the dangers of "fried rice syndrome".

Fried rice syndrome refers to food poisoning caused by eating reheated foods that have been improperly stored, causing bacteria to build up.

Though the name implies the most dangerous item is rice, there are actually many foods that can cause the same issues if not stored or heated correctly.

Uncooked foods can contain Bacillus cereus spores, that can survive when the meal is cooked, and which can multiply and grow into bacteria if the food is left at room temperature.

If eaten, the toxins in the food will usually cause the person to get sick between one and six hours later (but can appear later as well), with the most common symptoms being vomiting and diarrhea - and it is possible to get one or the other individually, or both at the same time.

wp-image-1263228386 size-full
While most people will just have a rough few days of vomiting and diarrhea, food poisoning can be fatal in extreme cases. Credit: Getty Images

Rice, pasta, and potatoes, as well as dairy, sauces, meat, and fish, can all cause food poisoning, and the likelihood of bacteria contaminating the dish rises the longer cooked food is left at room temperature.

While most people will just have a pretty rough day or two with food poisoning, in extreme cases such as AJ's, it can also be fatal.

The NHS advises that rice be served soon after it is cooked, or be cooled and refrigerated as quickly as possible - ideally within an hour.

Rice should be kept in the fridge for no longer than a day before reheating, it should only be reheated once, and must be checked to be steaming hot all the way through before eating.

While most cases of food poisoning pass over within a day or two, approximately 3,000 people in the US die from foodborne illnesses each year according to the CDC.

Featured image credit: Getty Images