A doctor is bringing back to the spotlight a tragic, rare case of food poisoning from 2008 in which a 20-year-old student died after eating leftover spaghetti.
According to the initial report published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, the student in Belgium identified as “AJ” became sick after eating spaghetti and tomato sauce five days after it was first made.
The authors of the report said the spaghetti was stored at room temperature before it was microwaved and reheated.
“Immediately after eating, he left home for his sports activities, but he returned 30 minutes later because of headache, abdominal pain and nausea. At his arrival, he vomited profusely for several hours and at midnight had two episodes of water diarrhea,” the report said. “He did not receive any medication and drank only water. After midnight, he fell asleep. The next morning at 11:00 AM, his parents were worried because he did not get up. When they went to his room, they found him dead.”
According to officials, a significant amount of B. cereus (Bacillus Cereus) — a food-poisoning organism — was found in samples of the leftover spaghetti.
Dr. Bernard, who identifies himself as a licensed provider trained and based in the US, explains in his YouTube video how the spoiled pasta shut down AJ’s liver.
“Typically, food poisoning just causes stomach inflammation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, it doesn’t typically cause acute liver failure, and even worse, we can’t find out which bacteria is causing the problem because culturing it would take days — days A.J. doesn’t have because his liver is quickly shutting down,” Bernard said.
His YouTube video has been viewed more than 2 million times.
Dr. Bernard added that while AJ’s case is not “typical,” other deaths have also been documented, so it’s important to be cautious of any food that isn’t properly stored.
The authors of the study made a similar conclusion.
“Although we cannot incriminate B cereus as the direct and unique cause of death, the present case illustrates the severity of the emetic and diarrheal syndromes and the importance of adequate refrigeration of prepared food,” the report said. “Because the emetic toxin is preformed in food and is not inactivated by heat treatment, it is important to prevent B. cereus growth and its cereulide production during storage.”