Bacillus cereus
Foodborne illnesses

Food Safety


Bacillus cereus food poisoning is the general description, although two recognized types of illness are caused by two distinct metabolites. A large molecular weight portion causes the diarrheal type of illness, while the vomiting type of illness is believed to be caused by a heat stable peptide.


The symptoms of bacillus diarrheal type mimic those of clostridium perfringens. The onset of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and pain occurs 6 – 15 hours after consumption of contaminated food. Nausea may accompany diarrhea, but vomiting rarely occurs. Symptoms last for 24 hours. The emetic type is characterized by nausea and vomiting within 0.5 – 6 hours after consumption of contaminated foods. Occasionally, abdominal cramps and/or diarrhea may also occur. These symptoms last less than 24 hours.


A wide variety of foods including meats, milk, vegetables, and fish have been associated with the diarrheal type. The vomiting - type are associated with rice products, and other starchy foods such as pastas, potato, and cheese products.

Mode of Transmission

Ingestion of foods noted above that has been abused by temperature is the main way to transmit the bacteria.
— Employees handling foods who demonstrate poor personal hygiene practices can also transmit the bacteria fecal to oral to the customer.


  • Practice proper handwashing
  • Rapidly cool foods
  • Cool foods in small quantities
  • Wash foods before preparation


FDA’s Bad Bug Book


National Restaurant Association