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Why You Need to Be Careful With Leftover Rice

Why You Need to Be Careful With Leftover Rice

Eating uncooked rice may give you food poisoning.

Jerry Rice, the Hall-of Fame wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, has three Super Bowl rings and more records than Frank Sinatra (almost). He’s also known for his demanding, off-season workouts that contributed to his performance and durability throughout his 20-year career.

Rice, the whole grain, is known for its durability and performance, too. It can be harvested and stored for months and one cup delivers 15 percent of the niacin, 21 percent of the magnesium and 88 percent of the manganese you need every day. Plus, a little over two pounds of uncooked rice can feed 25 people. No wonder it’s a staple food for half of the world’s population.

But Great Britain’s National Health Service recently issued a warning: You need to be careful about how, and for how long, you store rice once it’s cooked. They discovered that leftover cooked rice can give you food poisoning.

Here’s how that happens: Uncooked rice may contain spores of Bacillus cereus, and they can survive the cooking process. Then when rice is left out even for a little while after cooking, the bacteria can multiply and produce toxins that will make you sick. You may experience nausea and diarrhea one to five hours after eating the rice; symptoms usually last about 24 hours. And even if you put it in the fridge as soon as mealtime is over, you should use it up within 24 hours and only reheat it once. So enjoy, but don’t count on using leftovers.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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