Thursday, November 28, 2013

Poor Food Handling May Lead to Bacillus Cereus Illnesses

Bacillus Cereus is among some of the many species of bacteria that usually lurked around our home kitchens and other food handling or food preparation environment. Because this bacterium can cause severe illnesses, it’s of paramount importance that we know what steps to follow when we are handling foods. In this post, we will be particularly looking at the following:

  • Source of this bacterium
  • Illnesses this genus usually cause 
  • Signs and symptoms of these illnesses
  • Recommended (USDA) primary & secondary medical interventions 
  • Recommended temperatures that hot and cold foods should be kept

Bacillus Cereus 
The bacterium Bacillus cereus, otherwise refer to as B. cereus is a genus usually found in foods. It tends to multiply rapidly at room temperature, and produces toxins that can cause several illnesses.

Foods that have sat out for an extended period of time at room temperature, in particularly rice and other leftovers are usually one of the main sources of this bacterium. Sauces, soups, and other prepared foods, can also harbor its growth, if they have sat out for too long at room temperature. Thus, prompt refrigeration or maintaining leftovers and other prepared food at the recommended temperature is extremely important.

Two Known types of illness Cause By B. Cereus
1. Diarrheal: characterized by diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 6-
   15 hours.
2. Emetic toxin: characterized by nausea and vomiting with 30 minutes –      
    6 hours.

Immediate Response To Signs and Symptoms
A person who has been experiencing constant or prolong diarrhea and vomiting secondary to consuming toxin produce by Bacillus cereus can become dehydrated very quickly. Thus, it’s very important that he/she tries to re-hydrate himself or herself as quickly as possible, by returning sufficient fluids to the body to compensate for that amount lost. If not, this can lead to a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular, and an overall disruption of metabolic process.
Based on the advice provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one should drink plenty of fluids and get enough rest. However, if you are unable to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration, you should seek medical attentions immediately.

Food Handling Recommendation
To reduce the risk of becoming ill from Bacillus cereus, hot foods should be kept hot (above 140°F). Similarly, cold foods, should be kept cold (40°F or below). Cooked foods should be stored in a wide, shallow container and refrigerate as soon as possible. It’s best to refrigerate all leftovers within 2hrs.

Bacteria in general, are not visible to the naked eyes; Usually, they can only be seen under a microscope. As a result, there’s no way for us to tell whether or not they are sitting in foods we are about to consume. In fact, if this was the case, we could easily avoid becoming ill from Bacillus cereus.

Often, it’s only after we have gotten ill from eating a bacterium infested meal that we have become aware of the fact that they were indeed present in our foods. For this reason, we should always try to practice safe food handling techniques, but more importantly, try our uttermost best to follow all the recommended precautionary measures provided by the USDA and other food safety related agencies.

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