Here’s why leftover rice could be making you sick

Growing up, we’re taught by our parents, our movies (as well as adidas marketing campaigns) that ‘Impossible is Nothing’. That if we put our minds to it, we can go to space, become rich beyond our wildest dreams, or even become president. Now, if there are any young people reading this, I don’t want to crush your dreams, but there are some things that are extremely difficult to pull off.

One of those things is to establish the perfect balance between work and your personal life. Another is writing a best-selling novel, while I find it’s nigh-on impossible to make rice and cook yourself exactly the right amount. The actual act of making rice is fine, usually, but I always end up feeling stuffed while another two servings sit in the pan.

It’s a nightmare.

Usually, I end up leaving the rice in its saucepan on the kitchen stove, until the next day when I can reheat it, and chow down once more. There’s something about leftover food that appeals to me, and leftover rice is no different. What I find is that the days after my rice meals, I’m left feeling pretty sick, and it happens too often to be a coincidence.

But why does reheating your leftover rice leave you feeling so unwell? According to this report by the NHS out in the UK, eating leftover rice could be seriously not good for your health. Contrary to what you might think, it’s nothing to do with the reheating process itself; rather, it’s how the rice was stored beforehand that might be affecting you.

Before it’s even brought to the boil, uncooked rice can contain a whole lot of spores of Bacillus cereus, which is one of the leading causes of food poisoning. These spores can survive even when the rice is put in really hot water, and if once it’s been boiled it’s allowed to stay at room temperature, those spores can become bacteria, and could even produce the toxins that leave you incapacitated within hours.

What’s more, studies found that the longer you leave cooked rice out at room temperature, the more dangerous to eat it becomes. As soon as you put it into a plate, you’re dealing with a ticking time bomb of food poisoning.

So, how do you avoid getting food poisoning from your delicious leftover rice? Simple: just make sure it’s put into a cool place as quickly as possible. The NHS recommends you get your grains cool within the hour, but I think it should be as soon as you decide you can’t eat any more rice.

Once it’s nice and cool, though, you’ve only got a day before you have to reheat it, and you should never attempt to reheat your rice more than once. When you stick it in the microwave, always make sure that your delicious grains are steaming all the way through. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a very unpleasant surprise.

I know that it sounds like rice can be a bit of a nightmare, and you might even be considering switching to pasta instead. Don’t give up! With these little precautions, I’m sure you’ll find that your leftover rice can be awesome every time.

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