A 20-year-old man, known as AJ, was trying to save money where he could just like any student.
The most affordable meal for the Belgian to make was pasta with pre-made sauce.
On October 1 2008, AJ tucked into his meal of leftover spaghetti and tomato sauce, which had been prepared five days before and left in the kitchen at room temperature.
After his meal, he headed out to play sports with his friends, clueless about the gruelling symptoms that would follow.
He returned back home half an hour later with headache, stomach pains and nausea.
Not much later, the 20-year-old was struck down with episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea.
Instead of going to a doctor, he drank water and went straight to bed to sleep it off.
Tragically, AJ was found dead the next day by his parents who had gone to check on him when he didn’t report to class.
The time of death was estimated to be at 4AM, about 10 hours after he ate the suspected meal.
An autopsy revealed the Belgian man died of liver necrosis and acute pancreatitis.
Faecal swabs revealed the presence of Bacillus cereus, a well-known food poisoning organism which produces toxins.
The leftovers of the unfortunate meal were sent to the National Reference Laboratory for Food-borne Outbreaks (NRLFO) for analysis, which also found a significant presence of B. cereus.
The report, published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, about AJ’s case explained that this bacterium was “the most likely cause for this fatal outcome”.
Worryingly, this organism is being increasingly reported to be the cause of serious and potentially fatal non-gastrointestinal-tract infections, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
A YouTube medic, known as Dr Bernard, said the severity of the illness suffered by AJ is not “typical”, but it is still crucial to practise proper food storage techniques.
It is recommended to refrigerate perishable food items within two hours of preparation, while fresh poultry, fish and ground meats should be eaten or frozen two days after cooking, and beef, veal, lamb or pork, within three to five days.
“If the food smells funny, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” the doctor added.
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