We’ve all been guilty of drinking milk or munching on snacks that are a few days past their sell-by date, but eating food that’s been left out on the kitchen counter for almost a week is a risky move.
And sadly, it was one that didn’t pay off for a student in Brussels, Belgium. The 20-year-old, known as AJ, passed away from severe food poisoning caused by the bacteria bacillus cereus.
He became seriously ill after eating spagetti and tomato that had been sitting at room temprature for five days since it was first cooked. AJ had warmed the meal up in the microwave, and within 30 minutes was complaining of a severe headache, stomach pains, and nausea.
He then vomited for several hours, before heading off to bed around midnight in an attempt to sleep it off.
However, AJ was found dead by his heartbroken parents 11 hours later, who had become concerned after he’d missed class.
The post mortem discovered that the student had died from food poisoning caused by bacillus cereus, a spore-forming bug that produces toxins. Unfortunately, an unaware AJ had been treating his symptoms like a usual bout of food poisoning, such as drinking plenty of water and not taking medication.
When the spagetti was tested by the National Reference Laboratory for Food-borne Outbreaks, scientists discovered that the meal was so full of toxins, it had caused his liver to fail.
Although the AJ passed away in 2008, the case has been bought to the public’s attention once again after being featured in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.