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How Do I Prevent Food Poisoning from Rice?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg

While eating rice contaminated with the bacteria Bacillus cereus can give you food poisoning that causes vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, there are steps you can take to prevent it. Storing rice properly can help to decrease the risk of contamination from bacteria as well as other possible health hazards such as insects, mold, or fungus. Rice needs to be thoroughly cooked so that it is heated through, which can be accomplished in one of several ways, including on the stove or in the oven. After cooking, you need to make sure the rice is handled properly so that any remaining bacteria do not multiply to the point of becoming toxic. Also, remember to reheat it thoroughly and only once within a day of initially cooking it, as food poisoning from rice is often the result of improperly handled leftovers.

You can take steps to avoid food poisoning from rice even before you cook it. Rice can easily become contaminated with microorganisms or attract pests such as mice or bugs if it is not stored correctly. Once a bag of rice is opened, make sure to transfer it to a container that can be sealed with a tight lid. You will also want to find a cool, dry place to put it, as heat and moisture increase the chances that bacteria will grow in your rice.

Rice plants.
Rice plants.

Proper cooking is critical for preventing food poisoning from rice. Different methods you can use include simmering it in a pot on the stove, baking it in a covered dish in the oven, or microwaving it in a microwave-safe covered dish. You may also wish to use a rice cooker specifically designed for it. In all cases, the rice should be covered and cooked until the necessary liquid is absorbed for it to be tender, and the rice is hot all the way through.

A bowl of rice.
A bowl of rice.

Ideally, rice should be served immediately after cooking or kept hot until served. If this is not possible, you need to make sure it stays at room temperature for only two hours or less. After that, it is important to cool it and refrigerate it to discourage bacteria growth.

Food poisoning from rice can also occur if reheating is done improperly. Leftover rice should be eaten soon after it is made, preferably within a day. As with the initial cooking, you should make sure it is hot all the way through. Avoid reheating it more than once as well.

Discussion Comments


@anamur-- The same goes for coconut rice! If coconut rice has a sour, yogurt like smell, it should not be eaten. Coconut rice goes bad quickly. Also, the rice should not have any discoloration to it.


@ddljohn-- It's easy to keep rice clean and healthy at home, but I always have my doubts about the rice served at restaurants. Plain rice is not much of an issue, but fried rice can be a problem because it usually has eggs in it. If the eggs are not properly cooked or if they sit around, they can develop bad bacteria. That's why I avoid eating fried rice outside.


I think it's difficult to get food poisoning from rice. Rice is generally meant to be eaten fresh, so if it's made in small batches to eat for the day, it should be fine. Even if it is eaten the next day, as long as it's refrigerated, it doesn't go bad.

I eat rice the next day all time, but I always refrigerate it after it has cooled down. To warm it up, I put it in a microwave safe bowl and cover it with a wet paper towel to prevent it from drying up. I only heat as much as I can eat. I don't eat rice on the third day, I make a new pot.

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    • Rice plants.
      Rice plants.
    • A bowl of rice.
      A bowl of rice.
    • Uncooked rice.
      By: airborne77
      Uncooked rice.
    • Rice contaminated with the Bacillus cereus bacteria may cause vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
      By: Gabriel Blaj
      Rice contaminated with the Bacillus cereus bacteria may cause vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.