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Student Dies After Eating Leftover Pasta For Dinner

Ivan Vighetto/Wikimedia Commons

I come from a big family so when I cook I tend to go a bit overboard with the quantity so there's almost always extra food that can't be finished in one sitting.

Honestly, having leftovers for the next few days is one of the best parts of cooking up a big meal, especially when you have to pack lunches for work and school.

It is a perfectly normal practice as long as the food is handled properly. One student in Belgium failed to do so and it cost him his life, according to the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Only identified as AJ, the 20-year-old came home from school one day and decided to reheat pasta from a few days before.

The meal was sitting on his kitchen counter before he warmed it up in the microwave and devoured it for dinner.

About 30 minutes later, he began to experience a headache, nausea, and abdominal pain.

AJ chalked up his symptoms to food poisoning, so he went to bed without seeking medical help. Unfortunately, his parents found him dead the next morning after he failed to wake up for class.

Even though AJ was right in that he did get food poisoning, his case was much more serious than most.

An autopsy revealed that his food-borne illness was caused by the spore-forming bacteria called bacillus cereus.

Bacillus cereus spores
Bacillus cereus sporesA doubt/Wikimedia Commons

The pasta and sauce he consumed were found to have been filled with toxins from the deadly bacteria, which led to the liver failure that caused his death, according to Belgium's National Reference Laboratory for Food-borne Outbreaks.

AJ's story was first published in 2008, but a new YouTube video by a man named Dr. Bernard has put it back into today's headlines.

According to Foodsafety.gov, illness caused by bacillus cereus can be caused by a "variety of foods." Rice and leftovers that "have sat out too long at room temperature," are the biggest culprits.

As scary as this story may be, it shouldn't stop you from eating leftover pasta or rice again. Just make sure to store any leftovers in the fridge within two hours.

If you plan on leaving hot food out, make sure to keep them over 140°F. Cold foods should be kept at 40°F or under.

Food safety experts recommend using a "wide, shallow container," when storing food in the refrigerator.

Even if they're in the fridge, uneaten leftovers should be thrown out after three to four days. This is important because sometimes food can be tainted without smelling or looking spoiled.

Have you ever gotten sick from eating leftovers? Let us know in the comments!

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.