Clinical journals are crucial to keeping track of not just the development of well-known diseases, but also the existence of strange and bewildering phenomena and the number of times they have occurred throughout human history.
That said, this 20-year-old Belgian student probably didn’t mean to further the medical cause by being a case study himself.
The Journal of Clinical Microbiology had recorded the young man’s case in 2008, after he had made what was obviously not the wisest decision in hindsight.
The student, who was only known as “AJ”, had arrived back home from college hungry.
To feed himself, he decided he was going to reheat some food for lunch – specifically, a bowl of spaghetti and some tomato sauce he planned to eat with it.
Sounds reasonable, right?
It certainly appeared to be a logical course of events, especially when you factor in the fact that this was part of the weekly meal prep he had made on that Sunday.
5-day-old pasta isn’t really a problem when it is stored correctly. There was just one problem – it wasn’t.
What AJ had done was he had boiled the pasta beforehand, then stored them in some Tupperware containers that were then left at room temperature on the kitchen counter – for 5 consecutive days.
He would then, over the course of the week, reheated the boiled pasta and add the sauce.
Unfortunately, his luck ran out this time.
The student had noticed the pasta had tasted a little odd this time, but had assumed it was just the new tomato sauce he was trying out.
He finished his lunch without second thought, then headed back out to play some sports – but not for long.
Not even an hour later he found himself being assaulted by severe cramps, headaches, and nausea. The student rushed home and ended up throwing up repeatedly.
This really should have been a hint that something was horribly wrong here, but AJ had figured it was just food poisoning, and he should try sleeping it off.
And so, he fell asleep at midnight – and never woke back up.
His parents would discover his lifeless body the next morning, after noticing their son hadn’t headed out for college that day.
An autopsy later revealed the young man had passed away in his sleep around 4am about 10 hours after he last ate the spoiled spaghetti.
The autopsy also revealed he had developed liver necrosis (which meant his liver had shut down at some point) as well as what could possibly be acute pancreatitis.
The culprit? Bacillus cereus, the bacteria behind the infamous “fried rice syndrome” – a type of food poisoning that is often seen as a result of leaving fried rice to sit at room temperature for several hours.
It seems that the bacteria had developed in his pasta, and caused his death a few hours later.
To prevent this sort of poisoning, please always ensure that you store food appropriately and safely, and to not eat it if it tastes, smells, or looks odd in any way.
Better to be safe than sorry!