Rice is a grass plant that is edible and is classified as a starchy cereal grain.
Roughly one-half of the world population, including virtually all of East and Southeast Asia, is wholly dependent upon rice as a staple food.
95 percent of the world’s rice crop is eaten by humans.
Rice is cooked by boiling, or it can be ground into a flour.
It is eaten alone and in a great variety of soups, side dishes, and main dishes in Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, among many other cuisines.
Other products in which rice is used are breakfast cereals, noodles, and alcoholic beverages, such as, Japanese sake.
With so many different rice recipes, and so many consumers of rice, raises the question, “If there are leftovers, is it okay to reheat the cooked rice?”
That is a question you need to ask and deserve an answered to if you regularly consume rice.
Reheating Rice Requires Extra Care
An unpleasant soil bacteria called Bacillus cereus lives on the surface of most rice plants.
Cooking can kill most of the bacteria but not all of their hardy spores.
The spores can sprout into life on cooked rice and release toxins that can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea if eaten.
The bacteria starts to multiply and release its toxins on cooked rice when the temperature is between 39 and 131 degrees Fahrenheit (4-55 degrees celsius).
Cooked rice can be unsafe to eat when the toxins are at critical level. Though the smell and appearance of the rice doesn’t change.
How To Cool and Reheat Cooked Rice Safely
If you know there will be leftovers, you will need to promptly cool the rice dish by storing it in the refrigerator that is set to less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees celsius).
The quicker you can get any uneaten rice into the fridge, the safer the leftover rice will be to reheat.
When you reheat the rice, make sure it is pipping hot.
Do not reheat rice more than once.
If you plan to eat the leftovers in two servings for example, and you plan to eat only one serving now, than reheat only that portion.
Your second portion should not be reheated if it has been 2 days ( 48 hours) in the fridge since the original cooking of it.
It should only be served cold, as bacteria levels are dangerous for reheating, which would trigger a surge in toxin production.
If rice is left in fridge for 3 days (72 hours), again the rice should only be eaten cold and not reheated.
If by day 3 the rice is not consumed, discard it.
Always remember that you do not need to cool cook food completely before putting it in the refrigerator, as modern appliances readjust quickly after an influx of heat.
There is greater risk from leaving food out at room temperature.
Information Source: The Science of Cooking – author Dr. Stuart Farrimond – First Edition 2017 – Is it okay to Reheat Cooked Rice? Pages 132 and 133.