Why You Should Reconsider Eating Leftover Rice

We all know that rice is one of the most versatile foods around—it’s filling, fluffy, and delicious! So it’s no wonder that half of the world’s population considers it to be a dietary staple. Though we certainly love to incorporate it in as many meals as we can, it has recently come to our attention that, when not handled properly, it can make you very ill.

But before we dive into this lesser-known problem, let’s first clear up one popular myth that seems to be making its way around the Internet. According to the National Health Service UK, simply reheating rice will not cause you to get sick; the problem lies in how some of us choose to store it.

You see, once rice is fully-cooked and ready to be consumed, it should never, EVER sit out at room temperature, the reason being that rice may come jam-packed with spores called the Bacillius cereus bacteria, and they aren’t pretty.

If the stuff doesn’t agree with you, you could be dealing with some pretty nasty 24-hour food poisoning in the form of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Of course, if your dried rice is not cooked completely, then you should never be eating it in the first place! In fact, for the bacteria to be completely “cooked out”, the rice should reach at least 212°F. Simply put, if you sense any stiffness or crunch, it’s best to put it back in that pan.

Now, if you ever happen to notice rice sitting out for long periods of a time at a restaurant, or if your scoop tastes cold, or just plain old, then it’s best that you skip it.

How to safely store your rice

When you cook rice, or bring it home in a doggy bag from your favorite Chinese joint, be sure to refrigerate it as soon as possible. From there, it should be safe to consume and reheat for another 4 days, provided it has been kept in an air-tight container

It’s also important to note that all foods—not just rice—will end up carrying less harmful stuff if they are cooled relatively quickly. The whole idea here is that you don’t want there to be any chance for bacteria to grow.

USDA’s rule of thumb is to cool the food as rapidly as possible. If the rice is staying on a warmer, (i.e. a rice cooker or slow cooker), be sure that it is being kept at at least 140°F. If that temperature drops, go ahead and store it in the fridge!

You can even freeze your rice if you’d like; just make sure that you cook it thoroughly and follow the golden rule of refrigeration!

The guidelines definitely aren’t that difficult to follow, but they certainly are important to know! To learn more details on how you can best keep both you and your family safe when preparing rice at home, be sure to check out Life Hacker’s article here.

Did you know about rice’s hidden danger? Have you ever gotten sick from eating rice that has been left out? What is your favorite way to prepare this culinary staple?