White rice in a metal pan
White rice in a metal pan

Leftover rice could make you sick if you don't do this one thing

Dusty Baxter-Wright
Wednesday 29 March 2017 12:30
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The INSIDER Summary:

  • The NHS says that leftover rice can be bad for you.
  • Uncooked rice can contain spores that can survive when the rice is cooked.
  • If the rice stands at room temperature for too long, those spores turn into bacteria.
  • That in turn can cause food poisoning.
  • Store your rice as quickly as possible once you're done eating it.

Although reheating a Chinese takeout when you've got a hangover is one of life's great pleasures, leftover rice can actually be scarily bad for you, the NHS says.

Because if you didn't already know, you can get a pretty grim case of food poisoning from eating reheated rice; it's not the reheating that causes the problem, but instead the way the rice has been stored after being cooked the first time.

So uncooked rice often contains spores (cells capable of reproducing quickly) of Bacillus cereus — a bacteria strand that can cause food poisoning — that can survive when rice is cooked.

And if the rice is left standing at room temperature after it's been boiled, the spores can grow into bacteria, which will ultimately multiply and may produce toxins that cause vomiting or diarrhea.

The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria will make the rice unsafe to eat — meaning it's vital that you store your rice at the right way quickly if you're hoping to reheat it later.

So, how do you increase the chances of avoiding food poisoning all together? First off, serve rice as soon as it's been cooked, and cool any leftovers as quickly as possible. The NHS recommends within an hour, ideally. You can then keep the rice in the fridge (but for no more than one day) before reheating.

It's worth noting you should also check the rice is 'steaming hot' all the way through when you're reheating it, and never attempt to reheat it more than once.

Happy rice reheating, y'all.

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