Every morning when I’m walking out the door to go to work, I open my fridge and take out my lunch bag. It invariably contains leftovers from the night before or earlier in the week. Leftovers have helped me save hundreds of dollars over the course of the year, and helped prevent food from going to waste at home. While leftovers are always the economical choice, they can be hazardous as was proved when a 20-year-old student died in his sleep after enjoying a final meal of leftover pasta. Unfortunately, he had left the pasta out of the fridge for five days.
The young man was living in Brussels in Belgium when he ate the rancid pasta. The young man fell sick soon after that, getting stricken with food poisoning. The reason it was so bad was that it was left out at room temperature when it should have been kept cool in the fridge.
Soon after consuming the bad pasta, AJ, as the young man is known, became horribly sick. However, he tried to tough it out and went to bed to try to sleep it off. But the next morning, he was found dead in his bed. His parents were horrified to learn the news.
AJ lost his life to rancid pasta back in October 2008. He ate the bad pasta when he came home from a busy day at school, overcome with hunger. Although the pasta had been sitting on the countertop in his kitchen for days, he was too hungry to avoid it and ate it nonetheless – and despite its horrid taste.
He ate the pasta before he went out to play sports. However, less than thirty minutes later, he started experiencing the symptoms of food poisoning. His stomach was troubled; he suffered abdominal pain, nausea, and a splitting headache.
AJ hurried home to sleep off the sickness. But the next morning, his “worried” parents hurried to his Brussels living quarters and discovered his lifeless body in his bed, eleven hours after he passed out in his sickened state. They noticed his absence when he didn’t show up to college the next morning.
People don’t usually perish from food poisoning. That’s why he underwent an autopsy – to discover why AJ, a healthy young man, died from eating rancid pasta.
The autopsy revealed that the 20-year-old died from bacteria called Bacillus cereus. This spore produces toxins in the body and causes diarrhea and vomiting – which are normal symptoms of food poisoning. AJ assumed he just had regular food poisoning, and drank water and tried to sleep it off. But he was wrong – and the mistake cost him his life.
After his sudden death, authorities took samples of the pasta and sauce and sent them to the National Reference Laboratory for Food-borne Outbreaks. They found the deadly bacteria, which had produced so many toxins, AJ’s liver had failed.
If you come across pasta that has been left out for too long, throw it into the trash. Do not consume it. Hopefully, AJ’s story can save others from the terrible fate.
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