You Probably Had No Idea Leftover Rice Could Make You Sick

by Michelle Guerrere

Rice often doesn’t get enough credit, but it makes everything better (especially when you have a handy rice cooker). Chicken soup? Check. Sushi? Check. Orange chicken? Double check. But what many of us don’t know is that this “basic” food can actually cause serious health issues if we don’t store it properly when it's left over.

Rice contains a specific pathogen called Bacillus cereus that doesn’t die when heated—this specific bacteria causes more than 63,000 cases of food poisoning each year, reports Lifehacker. “The spores may survive cooking,” says Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist from North Carolina State University. “If cooked rice is subsequently held at room temperature, the spores can come out of their protective form, germinate, and vegetative forms multiply.”

The trick to keeping yourself safe is to refrigerate cooked rice two hours after cooking it at home and by double-checking that the restaurants you frequent don’t leave theirs out all day (shockingly, it’s actually a fairly common practice). The due diligence in asking will be worth it—we promise.

What do you think of these safe storage tips for leftover rice? Be sure to tell us in the comments.

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