A MAN died after eating a bowl of reheated pasta in tomato sauce.
The 20-year-old, known as AJ, was found in bed by his devastated parents several hours later.
The student had prepared the spaghetti dish five days earlier and left it in the kitchen at room temperature.
After a day at school, he warmed the meal in the microwave and wolfed it down before heading out to play sport.
But after suffering with a headache, stomach pains and nausea, he returned home only 30 minutes later.
The lad then vomited "profusely" and endured two episodes of "watery diarrhoea", according to a case report published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
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AJ, from Brussels, Belgium, fell asleep at around midnight.
When his "worried" parents went to check on him at 11am the following day, he was dead.
Legal examination determined he passed away at around 4am – about 10 hours after consuming the pasta in tomato sauce.
An autopsy later revealed he had suspected food poisoning caused by the bacteria Bacillus cereus.
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He had moderate centrilobular liver necrosis, which likely caused his organs to shut down.
The report authors said: "The spaghetti had been kept at room temperature for several days.
"This allowed Bacillus cereus to grow to very high concentrations and produced the high toxin concentration (14.8 μg/g) found in the pasta and which is likely responsible for the fatal outcome."
AJ's death, which happened in 2008, was first reported in 2011.
But his story resurfaced this week after several TikTok videos and Reddit posts warned of the dangers of "fried rice syndrome".
The term refers to a type of food poisoning caused by eating reheated foods which have not been stored correctly.
Uncooked foods, like rice, contain spores of Bacillus cereus which can survive when items are cooked.
If rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria, which will multiply and may produce toxins that cause vomiting or diarrhoea.
The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.
In rare cases, like AJ's, this can prove fatal.
'I HAD NO IDEA'
Social media users were horrified that something so simple could potentially kill them.
One person said on Reddit: "I regularly eat pizza a day or two later after it’s left on the side. I had no idea."
While another wrote: "Three days is my rule for leftovers. I’m going to revisit that."
But others on TikTok assumed not scoffing leftovers which have been out of the fridge was common knowledge.
In a video by @jpall20, posted as a warning to "all the students and meal-preppers out there", one woman said: "I don't know how this isn’t common sense."
Another user commented: "Do people not know that they need to refrigerate food?"
The NHS advises that people should aim to serve rice as soon as it has been cooked.
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If that isn't possible, it should be cooled as quickly as possible – ideally within one hour – and kept in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating.
When warming it up, it should be steaming hot all the way through, and it should never be reheated more than once, the health service adds.
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