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10 Deadly Truth About Leftovers You Need to Know

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Whether ordering takeout or cooking at home, dealing with leftover food is a major concern. This is especially true for single households, as minimum order requirements often lead to leftovers. Typically, these leftovers are stored and eaten later. However, consuming food at room temperature for several days can pose health risks, so caution is needed.

What is Fried Rice Syndrome?

Fried Rice Syndrome is a type of food poisoning caused by consuming food left at room temperature, potentially resulting in infection by a bacterium called Bacillus cereus. This bacterium thrives in carbohydrate-rich foods like rice and pasta. The syndrome gets its name because leftover rice, a main ingredient in fried rice, provides an ideal environment for Bacillus cereus to multiply.

Be Extra Careful with Carbohydrate-Rich Foods

The Bacillus cereus bacterium, notorious for causing severe food poisoning, thrives particularly well in carbohydrate-rich foods. Allowing it to grow in foods like rice or pasta for an extended period can cause severe symptoms of food poisoning.

It Can Be Fatal

Fried Rice Syndrome gained attention after a university student in Belgium suddenly passed away after eating pasta. The student lost their life after consuming a grain dish that had been left at room temperature. It was reported that the student had stored cooked pasta at room temperature for five days before reheating and consuming it.

What are the Symptoms of Fried Rice Syndrome?

If you contract this bacterium, its toxins can cause symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can affect not only the digestive organs but also other organs, resulting in terrifying diseases such as acute liver failure due to liver cell necrosis. Therefore, if you exhibit symptoms, promptly visit a hospital for treatment.

It Doesn’t Die Even At High Temperatures

One notable trait of this bacterium is its resilience to high temperatures. The spores produced by Bacillus cereus can survive temperatures exceeding 275°F (135°C) for 4 hours. Therefore, heating food thoroughly is insufficient to sterilize all Bacillus cereus bacteria, resulting in a high risk of food poisoning.

Be Extra Cautious with Delivered Food

The recently highlighted Fried Rice Syndrome is quickly becoming prevalent among young people who frequently order food for delivery. In today’s world, where many rely on simple meal kits or delivery food, the smartest way to store leftovers might be to put them in the freezer or discard them.

How to Store Leftovers Wisely

Leftovers should be stored in a glass container with a lid. Generally, it’s advised that refrigerated food be consumed within four days and frozen food within two months. Nevertheless, if the smell and taste of the stored food changed since initial consumption, it’s likely spoiled and should be discarded. Dishes like rice cakes and noodle soups can lose shape, taste, and texture after being stored and reheated, underscoring the importance of ordering just enough to eat.

Never Store Cooked Grain Foods at Room Temperature

To avoid Fried Rice Syndrome, it’s crucial not to store cooked grain foods at room temperature. Bacillus cereus thrives at temperatures higher than a refrigerator, ranging between 44.6°F and 140°F (7-60°C). Therefore, even if the food is heated, bacteria can proliferate if stored at room temperature. Eating cooked food immediately or refrigerating it as soon as possible is best. If it’s been at room temperature for more than 4 hours, bacteria have likely started to multiply, so it’s best to discard it.

Be Careful with Dried Foods, Too

The Bacillus cereus bacterium, responsible for Fried Rice Syndrome, warrants caution regardless of the season and can survive for a long time in dried foods. Therefore, leaving foods like ramen and pasta to sit for prolonged durations can pose risks. It’s necessary to be careful, especially for dried foods, often stored long before consumption.

What to Do if You Suspect Fried Rice Syndrome?

If you develop symptoms of food poisoning after eating carbohydrate-rich foods, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention. As mentioned earlier, severe cases of food poisoning can be fatal. Receive a doctor’s examination and take antibiotics or other prescribed medications. Typically, symptoms of food poisoning will disappear within a few days. However, if the symptoms persist, even mildly, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.

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