Can you eat rice without cooking it?

In this brief article, we will answer the question,”Can you eat rice without cooking it?” We will as well go through the risks of consuming raw rice and briefly discuss how to cook rice safely.

Can you eat rice without cooking it?

No, it is not advisable to eat rice without cooking it. Rice is a staple food for more than a half of the global population. White rice is what is mostly consumed but brown rice packs more nutritional benefits because it has the germ, bran and endosperm. 

Eating rice without cooking it puts you at risk of food poisoning and can also result in other health concerns. Let’s have a look at some potential risks of eating raw rice.

What are the risks of eating rice without cooking it?

Food poisoning

Consuming rice without cooking it can put you at a very big risk of food poisoning from a bacteria known as Bacillus cereus. Rice usually harbors B.cereus as it is a bacteria that is commonly found in soils. 

Bacillus cereus is a gram positive, facultative anaerobic bacteria which has rod shaped cells and can produce heat resistant toxins. B. cereus grows considerably well  in temperature ranges 39ºF (4ºC) to 118ºF (48ºC). It grows optimally within a temperature range of 82ºF (28ºC) to 95ºF (35ºC) and a pH range of 4.9 to 9.3 

Bacillus cereus usually produces spores that cause food poisoning. Consuming raw rice elevates the risk of food poisoning whereas cooked rice has a lower risk because the high temperatures during cooking can effectively minimize the growth of B.cereus.

The symptoms caused by the emetic toxin producing Bacillus cereus are:

  • Vomiting which can result in dehydration
  • Nausea
  • At times it can result in diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Symptoms usually start within 5 hours after ingestion of contaminated food and can disappear in 6 to 24 hours.

The symptoms associated with the enterotoxin bacteria are:

  • Diarrhea, which can have traces of blood or mucus
  • Nausea,
  • Abdominal pain
  • Symptoms usually start 8 to 16 hours after ingestion of contaminated food and can disappear in about 12 to 24 hours.

It may lead to gastrointestinal issues

Consuming raw rice can also result in gastrointestinal problems. This can be attributed to the compounds that are contained in it, for example raw rice contains lectin which is a type of protein that acts as an insecticide. Lectin is an antinutrient that inhibits the absorption and use of other nutrients in the body.

The human body is unable to fully digest lectins and they therefore pass through the digestive tract in their whole form which may damage it, as well as result in diarrhea and vomiting. 

The cooking process usually eliminates the lectins in the raw rice. Another way to reduce the lectins in rice is by sprouting the rice. Here you soak the rice in some water for some period of time and the rice will start sprouting like it is growing. 

When this happens, the process deactivates the lectins and other antinutrients and also makes certain minerals such as Zinc available. On top of this, sprouting makes it easier for the rice to be digested.

Other health concerns

Eating raw rice could also suggest that a person is suffering from a psychological eating disorder known as pica. Pica is an eating disorder which is usually characterized by eating items which have no nutritional value.

When a person consumes raw rice because of pica they may suffer from side effects such as abdominal pain, fatigue, tooth damage, hair loss, and even iron deficiency anemia.

How do you cook rice safely?

In order to consume rice that is safe from bacteria and has no potential risk of causing food poisoning, it is essential that you first cook the rice safely. Below are some tips on how you can cook rice well:

  • Properly wash your rice: Use a large bowl and fill it with plenty of water which can submerge the amount of rice you intend to cook. Then swirl your hand to properly clean the rice and drain off the cloudy and starchy water until the water runs clear. 
  • Cook your rice: Proceed to cook your rice using a rice cooker or using your stove top. Stove top rice usually cooks at a ratio of one cup of rice to one and a half cups of water.‌ After the water has boiled, throw in your rice and let it simmer for around 20 mins.
  • Ensure that your rice is fully cooked. The amount of water used and cooking times can be different as they are dependent on the type of rice you use in cooking.

Other FAQs about Rice that you may be interested in.

Can you eat rice without a gallbladder?

Can you eat packet rice without heating?

How much are 200 grams of rice when converted to cups?


In this brief article we have answered the question, “Can you eat rice without cooking it?” We have as well gone through the risks of consuming raw rice and briefly discussed how to cook rice safely.