This Cooking And Storage Habit Can Cause Food Poisoning

Just remember to always follow the 4-hour rule.
cooked rice in a rice cooker

Do you properly rinse, cook, and then store your steamed rice once it’s been cooked? You should because improperly storing cooked rice can be the cause of food poisoning.  

Food poisoning is a big deal. This is why preparing, cooking, and even reheating food can be areas where you can make a mistake and cause food poisoning. This is because bacteria is all around us: invisible to the and in the air. If you haven’t washed your hands prior to working with food, it might get transferred onto the items you touch and on your food. 

It’s a scary thought but one that can be prevented if you remember basic food safety tips. One of these tips is storage. Storing food in a timely manner counts to preventing bacteria from growing in your food and causing a food-borne illness. 

When it comes to rice, there are few things that you need to know so you can prevent rice from being a delicious part of your meal to one that makes you sick: 

1 Always rinse your rice.  

When you prepare rice to cook, you want to ensure your rice is clean but also to remove excess starch from it. Did you know there’s another reason to do it properly? Uncooked rice can harbor not just arsenic but also spores that could develop into bacteria that could make you sick. 

Arsenic can be found in the rice paddies where rice is grown. This is the same for the spores of a certain bacteria, the Bacillus cereus, that can cause food poisoning if left to grow. The good news is that the arsenic is minimal and can be removed by not only rinsing the rice thoroughly but also soaking it overnight before rinsing. This removes any arsenic in rice by up to half. 

With regards to the spores, the other good news is that the spores are dormant. Plus, the spores can be removed by simply rinsing the rice well. 

Photo by Majoy Siason

2 Store leftover rice properly.  

When you cook rice, it’s usually consumed soon after it’s cooked so it’s still hot and fresh from the cooker. However, if you have leftover rice, it’s always a good idea to store this soon after the meal is over. 

Leaving cooked rice at room temperature for longer periods of time is how any dormant spores left in the rice wake up and become active bacteria. This bacteria is what can cause food poisoning. 

You might think that cooking the rice will solve this problem. The bad news is that these spores can survive cooking and thus, might be present in your rice despite rinsing, cooking, and storing it properly. So, even reheating the food properly will not kill off the bacteria that are already present in the rice. 


What can you do? 

Any leftover food, especially rice, should be refrigerated within four hours from cooking and not left at room temperature beyond that time. This is because bacteria rapidly grow and develop at room temperature. Prevent food poisoning by always following these food safety tips when preparing, cooking, and storing this leftover part of you meal. 


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