Leftover Rice Could Give You Food Poisoning If You Don’t Do This First

For many of us, leftover Chinese food has pretty much reached the point of becoming a household staple in our refrigerators. That once-a-week order supplies two days worth of dinner, making it one of our favorite (and most cost-effective!) meals ever.

However, you can get seriously sick from eating those leftovers, but it’s not the meat or fish that's the culprit. Instead, leftover rice in any meal—yes, even ones you've cooked yourself—can pose a serious health risk if not stored properly after being cooked for the first time.

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According to the NHS, it's the way you store rice after cooking it that can get people sick. Here’s why: Uncooked rice oftentimes contains spores of Bacillus cereus (a bacteria that can potentially cause food poisoning), which has the ability to survive even when the rice is cooked. Once cooked, if you leave the rice standing at room temperature for a long period of time, those spores can grow into and breed bacteria, which may eventually produce illness-inducing toxins—hence the food poisoning.

So, if you tend to leave your leftover rice on the kitchen counter for a while before sticking it in the fridge, you're increasing your risk of getting sick. The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the higher your chances are that the bacteria will grow and cause food poisoning.

Luckily, it’s relatively easy to avoid food poisoning from rice if you follow a few basic storage rules. The most important tip? Serve rice as soon as it’s been cooked and cool it as quickly as possible afterward (ideally within one hour). Also, be sure to keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating and don’t reheat the rice more than once. Follow these rules, and your leftovers will be safe to eat!