If meat is left on the counter for too long, we all know that we should throw it out. But what about rice or pasta?
Although this carby goodness may seem harmless after you sit on the bench a little, you will probably think twice about hearing about the bacterium Bacillus cereus . 
It's not a very rare germ. B. cereus will be happy to live anywhere it can – soil, food or in the gut.
"The known habitats B. Cereus is extensive, including soil, animals, insects, dust and plants," Anukriti Mathur, a biotechnology researcher at the Australian National University, explained Science Alert.
"The bacteria will reproduce by utilizing nutrients from the food products [..] including rice, dairy products, spices, dried foods and vegetables."
Some strains of this bacterium are useful for probiotics, but others may give you an unpleasant battle for food poisoning, if you get the ability to grow and spread ̵
The worst scenarios can even bring death.
In 2005, such a case was recorded in Journal of Clinical Microbiology – five children in a family became ill from eating four-day-old pasta salad.
According to the case study, Pasta salad was prepared on a Friday, taken to picnic on Saturday. After returning from the picnic, it was stored in the refrigerator until Monday evening when the children were fed for dinner.
In the evening, the children began to vomit and were taken to hospital. Tragically, the youngest child died; another suffered from liver failure but survived and the others had less severe food poisoning and could be treated with liquids.
" B. cereus is a well-known cause of birth-borne disease, but infection with this organism is not commonly reported due to its usually mild symptoms," the researchers explain.
"A fatal case due to liver failure after consumption of pasta salad is described and demonstrates the possible severity."
While these fatalities are rarely rare, they have been included in the literature more than once. This week, the news highlighted another old case, published in 2011, about a 20-year-old student in Belgium who wanted to prepare his meals this week – on the fateful occasion it was spaghetti with tomato sauce.
He had cooked the pasta five days earlier and would warm it up with sauce. That day he left his food on the kitchen bench indefinitely. After diarrhea, abdominal pain and severe vomiting, he died later at night.
An answer to this case study highlighted two cases of adolescents who suffered liver failure and died from B. cereus – an 11-year-old who died after eating Chinese noodles and a 17- year old who died after eating four days old spaghetti.
Now, emphasize that most people who become ill with B before swearing pasta for life. cereus does not cease liver failure. Usually, it is a fairly mild case of food poisoning.
"It is important to note that B. Cereus can cause severe and fatal conditions such as sepsis in immunocompromised people, infants, the elderly, and pregnant women," says Mathur.
] hit people get better over time without any treatment. These people do not go to the doctor to get a diagnosis, "and therefore they are underreported.
But how can it cause such serious food poisoning and is there anything we can do?
B. cereus has a bad habit of secreting dangerous toxins into food. Some of these toxins are really hard to kill with the heat your regular microwave would deliver.
For example, one of the toxins that cause vomiting in humans (called an emetic toxin) can withstand 121 ° C for 250 minutes. And that's not the only poison you find in its arsenal.
"Our immune system recognizes a toxin secreted by [c
"Our study shows that the toxin targets and strokes holes in the cell, causing cell death and inflammation."
Her team also identified two ways We can help the body neutralize the effect of hemolysin BL, and therefore death ceases March B. cereus . The methods involve either blocking the activity of the toxin or reducing the inflammation caused by it. Although their approach is still in the early stages of research, the team hopes that these techniques could even be used in other toxin-producing bacteria, such as E. coli .
But most importantly – Keep your food in the fridge and exercise good kitchen hygiene.
"It's important for people to wash their hands properly and prepare food according to safety guidelines," says Mathur.
"In addition, heating of surviving foods will properly destroy most bacteria and their toxins."
The research has been published in Nature Microbiology .