Clostridium perfringens has been nicknamed the “cafeteria germ” since at least 1983. The germ grows when large quantities of food are prepared long before being consumed and are left out in the open (at room temperature) for a long period of time, such as at cafeterias and buffets.
The “cafeteria germ” can cause diarrhea and gas pains 8-24 hours after the infected food is eaten.
Wikipedia: Clostridium perfringens
Clostridium perfringens (formerly known as C. welchii) is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium of the genus Clostridium. C. perfringens is ever present in nature and can be found as a normal component of decaying vegetation, marine sediment, the intestinal tract of humans and other vertebrates, insects, and soil.
C. perfringens is the third most common cause of food poisoning in the United Kingdom and the United States though it can sometimes be ingested and cause no harm.
In the United Kingdom and United States, C. perfringens bacteria are the third most common cause of foodborne illness, with poorly prepared meat and poultry the main culprits in harboring the bacterium. The clostridium perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) mediating the disease is heat-labile (inactivated at 74 °C) and can be detected in contaminated food, if not heated properly, and feces. Incubation time is between six and 24 (commonly 10-12) hours after ingestion of contaminated food. Often, meat is well prepared, but too far in advance of consumption.
17 February 1983, Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Uninvited ‘guests’ can spoil party,” pg. 15E, col. 1:
Perfringens, a.k.a. “cafeteria germ,” attacks foods served in quantity and left for long periods at room temperature. But a home buffet can be a stopover if you’re not careful with its favorite targets—meat, poultry and other high-protein foods.
Perfringens shows its ugly side—usually diarrhea and/or gas pains—some eight to 24 hours after eating. The symptoms may end within a day. Careless serving practices and poor refrigeration are the main causes.
The Safe Food Book:
Your Kitchen Guide
By Mary Ann Parmley
Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service
Called the “cafeteria germ” because it often strikes food served in quantity and left for long periods on a steam table or at room temperature, perfringens is often found in cooked beef, turkey, gravy, dressing, stews, and casseroles.
Nutrition Handbook for Nursing Practice
By Susan G. Dudek
Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott
C. perfringens is sometimes referred to as “the cafeteria germ” because outbreaks frequently occur when large amounts of food cool slowly, either in the refrigerator or in chafing dishes or steam tables that fail to keep food hot.
Health and Wellness
By Gordon Edlin and Eric Golanty
Sudbury, MA: Jones and Barlett Publishers
Called “the cafeteria germ” because many outbreaks result from food left for long periods in steam tables or at room temperature. Bacteria destroyed by cooking, but some toxin-producing spores may survive.
The Disaster Preparedness Handbook:
A Guide for Families
By Arthur T. Bradley
New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub.
This bacterium is often referred to as the “cafeteria germ” because most outbreaks occur at institutional kitchens in hospitals, school cafeterias, prisons, and nursing homes.
Clostridium perfringens (CDC photo)
The Cafeteria Germ
Clostridium perfringens Also Known As “The Cafeteria Germ”
By: Tammy Phan
Date: May 19, 2011
Clostridium perfringens is one of the leading causes of food poisoning in the United States. C. perfringensis found in decaying vegetation, soil, and the intestinal contents of humans and other animals. It is found mostly in poorly prepared meats and in foods that have been prepared several hours and improperly stored before serving. C. perfringens is nicknamed “the cafeteria germ” because the most at risk places for outbreak is in cafeterias, prisons, and hospitals where large amounts of food are prepared in advance.
New York City • Restaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • (0) Comments • Wednesday, October 24, 2012 • Permalink
Informative post. I have learned new things today. I’m glad I saw this article.