Leftover pasta causes death
It is a chilling reminder about unseen dangers when news circulated that a Belgium student died after eating leftover pasta. Stories of university students eating leftovers (i.e. pizza) are common. Numerous students typically have quite a limited budget and will save money wherever they can. This includes reheating leftovers and eating food that may be on or over suggested use by dates.
The food prepared was spaghetti with tomatoe sauce. In this particular case, the food was reported to have been left on the bench for five days at room temperature. Tests were conducted on samples of the food and sauce, and the results would surprise many people. The report showed the tomatoe sauce did not contain any signs of bacteria, although the spaghetti had significant amounts of bacillus cereus bacteria. The Food Standards Authority notes that this particular bacteria is spore forming and produces toxins that build up in the body, which can potentially lead to death.
Australian standards for food hygiene cover information about safe temperatures for food handling, cooking and storage. Continual reference to what is commonly referred to as the food temperature ‘danger zone’ is common. Food handlers need to be aware of timing related to the 2 hour, 4 hour rule and a temperature range of 5-60 celsius. The underlying principle is food left at room temperature for greater than 4 hours should be discarded. In the case of this shock death, the time period was well exceeded.
Businesses are required to have a food safety supervisor nominated to oversee their operations. The supervisors are generally accredited by completing a food safety supervisor course online. In NSW, the NSW Food Authority provides a wealth of resources to inform the general public about food safety, health, and the potential for food poisoning.