Reheating rice or noodles could be poisonous

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Anyone who reheats leftover pasta or rice should have stored it well beforehand because otherwise, there is a risk of poisoning with the bacterium Bacillus cereus.

Whether rice or noodles – you usually cook too much of it, and the question arises: Save the rest or throw it away? If you decide to save the leftovers, you should eat them as soon as possible because the longer they are left unrefrigerated in the kitchen, the less edible they become. A specific bacterium is to blame.

It is possible to get food poisoning from cooked starch stored too long. According to Australian National University biotechnology researcher Anukriti Mathur, it can even lead to death in the most severe cases. A bacterium called Bacillus cereus is often to blame. It is found everywhere in the environment. It is introduced into the kitchen via soil and dust that adhere to vegetables, lettuce and fruit. In dry source products, such as rice or pasta, the insensitive bacteria are present but cannot multiply because of the low water content. They even survive cooking. Then, in the finished, water-containing dishes, once the food has cooled somewhat, at temperatures of 7 to 65 degrees, they can multiply significantly in a few hours and form harmful toxins (poisons). These toxins are not destroyed by further boiling of the food.

Mathur explains that bacillus cereus uses nutrients found in rice, pasta, spices, dried foods and vegetables to multiply. Live Science reports, “Starchy foods like rice are the most common sources of affected foods.” The bacterium releases two types of toxins: one that spreads in the food and can cause vomiting and another that is released in the small intestine after the food is eaten, causing cramps and diarrhea. Usually, symptoms are generally mild and resolve independently with rest and hydration.

“It is important to know that Bacillus cereus can cause severe and fatal illnesses such as blood poisoning in immunocompromised people, infants, the elderly and pregnant women,” Mathur says. “However, most affected people soon get better without treatment.”

Unfortunately, Bacillus cereus poisoning can also take a severe course. In 2005, such a case was described in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology: Five children in a family became ill after eating a four-day-old pasta salad. According to the case study, the pasta salad was prepared on a Friday and taken to a picnic on Saturday. After returning from the breeze, it was kept in the refrigerator until Monday night and served to the children for dinner. That night, the children began vomiting and were taken to the hospital. Tragically, the youngest child died; another suffered liver failure but survived. The surviving siblings remained hospitalized for a week with symptoms.

The story’s moral is to eat carbohydrates when they are friendly, hot, and freshly prepared. Don’t let cooked food sit unrefrigerated for several hours; refrigerate it immediately. If reheated, then eat immediately and do not let it stand. Reheating or freezing food outdoors for more than 2 hours will not prevent illness.

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