Clostridium perfringens: The facts

Clostridium perfringens.
Clostridium perfringens. Credit: FoodSafety.gov

Clostridium perfringens is a bacteria which causes food poisoning.

Cooking kills the growing C. perfringens cells that cause food poisoning, but not necessarily the spores that can grow into new cells. If cooked food is not served quickly or refrigerated, the spores can grow and create new cells.

These bacteria live between 40-140F (the “Danger Zone”). This means that they develop quickly at room temperature, but they cannot grow at refrigerator or freezer temperatures.

C. perfringens infections often occur when foods are cooked in large quantities and are then kept warm for a long time before serving. That’s why outbreaks of these infections are often found in hospitals, school canteens, prisons, and nursing homes or events with catered food.

Sources: Beef, poultry and gravies

Incubation period: 6-24 hours

Symptoms: Diarrhoea and abdominal cramps

Who should you do? Drink fluids, rest and visit the doctor

Prevention: Cook food properly, use a food thermometer, keep food hot after cooking, microwave reheated food properly, refrigerate perishable food within a couple of hours and freeze leftovers straightaway.

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