Bacillus cereus might cause many more cases of foodborne illness than is known. One reason it’s under-reported may be that most people have fairly mild, brief symptoms, so they don’t seek medical attention. Like other types of foodborne pathogens, it can cause serious illness in some people.
Often called “B. cereus” this bacterium causes two different types of sickness.
Both types can cause serious complications, though this is rare in otherwise healthy people.
Generally speaking, they’ll both go away by themselves.
People who are immunocompromised (because of other diseases or medications that weaken their immune system) are much more likely to suffer serious consequences.
All people are believed to be susceptible to B. cereus food poisoning.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from infection with B. cereus is to keep your food refrigerated at 40ºF or lower.
The reason is that, at higher temperatures, B. cereus can form spores – a survival mode in which they make an inactive form that can exist without nutrition and that develops very tough protection against the outside world – that grow and turn into more B. cereus bacteria.
The more bacteria, the more toxin, and the greater the chance that you’ll get sick.
Cooking may kill the bacteria, but it might not disable the toxin that causes the vomiting-type of illness. And don’t stop at refrigeration, because a related Bacillus bacterium can survive and grow at refrigerator temperature.
Add other food‐safety measures/good hygiene, like washing your hands, and washing foods (not meat or poultry), utensils, cutting boards and preparation space. Keep raw and cooked foods separate.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bad Bug Book, Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins.
Second Edition. Bacillus cereus, pp.92. 2012.
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