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Heat Resistant Bacteria

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

A bacteria whose spores don't die by boiling! What is it? What can you do about it? It's called Clostridium Perfringens (New to the Government Food Standards website). Here's what it looks like.

Clostridium Perfringens. Photograph by Scimat
Clostridium Perfringens. Photograph by Scimat

What is it?

Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) is a bacteria is found everywhere in the environment and intestines of people and animals. It's toxins makes you sick with gastroenteritis which gives you diarrhoea and abdominal cramps 6-24 hours of eating contaminated food. Thankfully most people can recover within a day.

Who's Susceptible?

It's found in soil, plants particularly dried spices. Caused by poor hygiene (e.g. not washing hands properly after the toilet) can also cause food to become contaminated. Common foods linked to illness include meat and poultry, gravies and pre-cooked foods, especially spiced and herbed dishes.

You get sick by eating contaminated food that hasn't been properly cooked and cooled, especially food prepared in large quantities. By reheating food too slowly, or letting it sit at warm temperatures for hours.

How can illness be prevented?

Make sure to cook your food thoroughly and serve it immediately or keep it hot before serving (or more specifically, 72 °C for 16 seconds, 70 °C for 2 minutes or 63 °C for 30 min) . If it's reheated food, then make sure it's done quickly.

If cooked food is going to be stored to use later, cool it quickly: put it in the fridge (or freezer) as soon as it stops steaming. Divide large amounts of hot food into smaller containers to let it cool faster.

As always, keep hands and equipment clean when preparing and eating food.

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