Food poisoning from eating a rice salad or reheated rice is quite common, why is this?

Uncooked rice often contains spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning.  These spores can survive when the rice is cooked.  When cooked rice is left in the Danger Zone (between 8°C – 63°C) the spores can grow into bacteria which multiply rapidly and may produce toxins that cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

The longer cooked rice is left out at room temperature (Danger Zone 8°C – 63°C ) the more likely it is the bacteria or toxins will have multiplied making the rice unsafe to eat.  These bacteria and toxins cannot be killed by reheating.

So, to keep rice safe to eat, once it is cooked it must either be:-

  • Served immediately
  • Hot held at 63°C or above
  • Cooled quickly and refrigerated within 90 minutes

Reheating rice that has been inadequately cooled does not kill the spores or any toxins that have already been produced and can still make you ill.  It is the cooling process, not the reheating process, that causes the problems!

Food fact

Did you know that the meaning behind the tradition of throwing rice at newlyweds is to shower the new couple with prosperity, fertility and, of course, good fortune.