In a perfect world, we’d have the time (and energy) to cook daily meals from scratch. But since life simply doesn’t work this way, we can’t help but acknowledge the beauty of leftovers. All you need to do is save the food and reheat it later — right?
Well, sort of. Apparently, if you don’t properly store cooked rice, it can make you sick later on.
According to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), eating reheated rice poses a risk of food poisoning. However, it’s not about the actual process of reheating. It comes down to how you handle the rice after you first cook it.
First of all, uncooked rice may contain spores of a bacterium called Bacillus cereus.
This microorganism can cause food poisoning. And while you probably won’t be eating uncooked rice anytime soon, there’s a major catch: The spores can survive even after the rice has been cooked.
If you leave the rice out at room temperature, the little buggers can grow into harmful bacteria.
This will only get worse over time. The longer you leave the rice out, the more the bacteria will multiply and produce toxins. These toxins are responsible for vomiting, diarrhea, and all the unpleasant symptoms of food poisoning.
You can develop these symptoms if you eat reheated rice that hasn’t been properly stored.
Fortunately, you don’t have to necessarily give up leftover rice.
If rice is one of your staple foods, be mindful of the way you store it.
The NHS suggests eating the rice as soon as it’s been cooked.
This means you should make just enough rice for your current meal.
But what happens when you end up with too much rice?
(We’ve all been there before.)
In this case, put the rice in the refrigerator the moment it cools down.
The NHS says you should do this within one hour.
Don’t keep the rice in the refrigerator for more than one day.
So, yeah — it’s not the best idea to store rice for the entire week.
Sorry, meal preppers!
You might want to rethink storing large amounts of rice.
When it’s time to reheat the rice, the dish should be steaming hot.
This will ensure all the harmful bacteria is destroyed.
Finally, the NHS recommends avoiding reheating rice more than once.
It’s a lot to remember. Basically, you shouldn’t leave out cooked rice for more than one hour.
This simple, yet important, habit is crucial for preventing food-borne illness.
It’s the best way to have your rice and eat it, too!