Bacillus Cereus is a bacterium which often causes toxic food poisoning to holidaymakers. The disease is characterised by an incubation period of 8 to 16 hours followed by abdominal pain, cramps and profuse watery diarrhoea. Whilst the onset of illness is quite sudden the symptoms are over fairly quickly.
Points to consider:
Provided the food your eat during a holiday is prepared in accordance with food safety guidelines you should not be struck down with food poisoning from Bacillus Cereus
Bacillus Cereus is a rod-shaped bacterium which is found in the soil and dust. It grows and multiplies in food stored at a warm temperature. It produces an exotoxin and can also form spores when conditions are unfavourable.
A spore is a rounded body which forms inside the cell. It then gradually disintegrates, leaving the spore only, which can resist very high temperatures and high levels of chemicals that would normally kill it. If consumed they can then germinate in the gastro-intestinal tract causing illness.
This diarrhoeal syndrome has been widely reported amongst holidaymakers travelling to Northern and Eastern Europe as well as Egypt, Mexico and the USA. Recovery is normally short, although certain at risk groups such as the debilitated and the elderly should be observed carefully for dehydration.
Identification of this type of food poisoning will normally require a stool culture which will be taken by your doctor following the holiday.
A wide variety of foods, including meat and vegetable dishes, soups, stews, sausages, sauces and desserts have been implicated with this illness. However, reheated rice is almost always the cause of a B. cereus holiday food poisoning outbreak.
Food handlers in hotels abroad often prepare rice in advance of a sitting to save time later. The rice is not store or refrigerated adequately overnight. It is then reheated often over a pan of boiling water prior to being served.
Unfortunately, the bacteria which had survived the first cooking of the rice by forming spores often germinates into vegetative bacteria, multiplies and produces toxins during the long slow cooling of the rice overnight. If the rice was not reheated sufficiently to destroy the toxin in it leading to an illness outbreak amount those who consumed it.
It is difficult to avoid food poisoning as food often looks and smells normal even if it contains harmful bacteria. Rice should never be reheated so if it looks hard , avoid it. Holidaymakers should check review sites and lawyers reports for illness outbreaks. You should avoid hotels which are perennial offenders when it comes to illness outbreaks caused by poor food hygiene practices. Why not check out our Holiday Hotel Watch for the common culprits?
If you have been subjected to food poisoning on a foreign package holiday you will be able to claim compensation for your ordeal provided you can prove fault. Holidaymakers diagnosed with a bacteria form of food poisoning such as bacillus cereus, salmonella, E. coli etc. are likely to have a valid claim.
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