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How to store rice properly to avoid food poisoning

If you’re a meal-prepper or leftover-lover, you’d know that having extra cooked rice on hand makes life a whole lot easier (and tastier). But before you go ahead and reheat your rice-based lunch you’ve packed for today, you might just want to take note of this terrifying news: eating reheated rice can lead to food poisoning. Yes, true story.

It’s not the reheating that causes the problem; the U.K’s National Health Service explains that it comes down to the way the rice has been store before it’s reheated, which makes or breaks it.

After cooking the rice, you should never let it sit out for more than an hour. Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus – a bacterium that can cause food poisoning – and these spores can survive when rice is cooked. The longer you leave your rice to stand at room temperature, the greater the chances the spores will have to multiple and produce toxins. If this is the case and you eat the rice later on, there is a very high chance you’ll end up with a bad case of vomiting or diarrhoea (normally experienced 1-5 hours afterwards).

Luckily, there are several ways you can avoid the not-so-rice bathroom runs. Ideally, you should make the exact amount you need and serve the rice as soon as it has been cooked. If that isn’t possible, cool the rice as quickly as possible (preferably within one hour).

If you must store rice, make sure you eat it the next day. It’s also crucial to ensure the rice is steaming all the way through when you reheat it, and once it’s reheated, that’s the end of its lifetime – so, don’t even bother trying to salvage the remaining grains for another meal later on in the week.

Bottom line: save yourself from living in fear, and just cook a fresh batch each time those rice cravings kick in. And our apologies if you’ve meal-prepped rice for the week ahead.

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