Does rice have to be refrigerated?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does rice have to be refrigerated?” and tell you how to properly store rice. We will also tell you how to spot spoiled rice and what happens if you eat spoiled or contaminated rice.

Does rice have to be refrigerated?

Yes, rice has to be refrigerated after cooking. It should not be left out after cooking for more than 2 hours because bacteria starts to grow at temperatures between 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F, according to USDA.

Eating contaminated rice can lead to food poisoning.

On the other hand, uncooked rice does not need to be refrigerated.

How to properly store rice?

  1. When unopened, rice can be kept in the pantry in a cool, dry place.
  1. Once opened, rice should be placed inside an airtight jar (preferably glass jar) and kept in a cool, dry, dark place and away from moisture.
  1. If you wish to store rice for longer periods of time, place it in a heavy duty freezer bag and put it in the freezer.
  1. Once cooked, do not leave the rice out for more than two hours.
  1. Place the rice in an airtight container and put it in the fridge. 
  1. Freeze the cooked rice if you wish to store it for a long period of time.

How to spot spoiled rice?

You can tell when the rice has gone bad by looking for signs of spoilage. Since raw rice has a longer shelf life than cooked rice, and their signs of spoilage also differ, let’s look at these signs separately for both of them. 

Raw rice

Raw rice will give off a rancid odor when it has gone bad because it has fats in it which will deteriorate overtime. Brown rice spoils faster than white rice due to its higher fat content.

Raw rice may also get infested with bugs which you can easily see crawling about in your rice. They appear blackish red in color. Now these bugs can be separated by soaking the rice in water but if you feel uncomfortable with the idea of bugs in your food, then it is better to throw the rice out.

Next, touch the rice. If it feels damp or oily, then it means that the oil in the rice grains has seeped out of them making the rice go bad.

Cooked rice

Cooked rice will also give off a bad smell when it has spoiled. The taste may also alter if it has spoiled. It should taste exactly like the way it did when it was cooked.

Cooked rice should also have a fluffy and airy texture. Spoiled rice, on the other hand, will be slimy and gooey to touch.

Look for any growth of mold or discolorations as well.

What happens if you eat spoiled rice?

Eating spoiled or contaminated rice can lead to food poisoning. The symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Fried rice syndrome is a type of food poisoning which is caused by Bacillus cereus. The symptoms of fried rice syndrome are nausea, vomiting, profuse watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

It is caused when rice is allowed to sit at room temperature after boiling it. It can also be caused by eating leftover cooked rice.

Restaurants often boil a large amount of rice at once and then let it sit at room temperature for hours before they fry it (as per the customers’ needs). This sitting period allows the bacteria to grow and produce toxins. 

These toxins are heat resistant. So, frying the rice again does not guarantee that it is free from contamination.

Read more about fried rice syndrome here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does rice have to be refrigerated?” and told you how to properly store rice. We also told you how to spot spoiled rice and what happens if you eat spoiled or contaminated rice.

Citations

https://www.livescience.com/65374-bacillus-cereus-fried-rice-syndrome.html
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-rice-go-bad#dangers
https://biomedgrid.com/fulltext/volume5/fried-rice-syndrome-a-disease-of-fast-world-scientific-analysis.000979.php#:~:text=Fried%20Rice%20Syndrome%20is%20a,soil%20and%20food%20%5B1%5D.
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-store-rice#how-to-store-uncooked-rice
https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/does-uncooked-rice-go-bad

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.