As a matter of principle, I don’t give my kids last night’s leftover rice – even though it’s been refrigerated. It’s probably a habit that developed in my family: “give the kids fresh rice.” And being Indian and all, of course we eat A LOT of rice. So I’m wondering about the reasons for this. And why would leftover rice be bad just for kids?
Apparently, rice in raw form (be it brown, white, basmati, whatever) contains spores of a bacteria called Bacillus cereus. These spores can survive the cooking process and germinate into bacteria when cooked rice is left standing at room temperature. Reheating the rice doens’t destroy the bacteria either.
I’m admittedly a bit skeptical of all of this – I remember the summers I spent in my grandmother’s village, where it was common practice to eat leftover rice (and my grandmother didn’t even own a refrigerator). I’m sure this was and is common practice in many Asian countries. Maybe everyone had built a resistance to the bacteria?
Food safety for handling cooked rice is not something you hear a lot about in the US or elsewhere, but check out the advice from the governments of New Zealand (Food Safety Authority) and the UK (Food Standards Agency).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take any chances. Here are some best practices when it comes to handling leftover cooked rice:
I think I’ll stick to these rules – nothing is worth a day of vomiting…
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