How to tell if brown rice is bad? (+3 Ways)

In this article, we will answer the question “How to tell if brown rice is bad?”, the health consequences of eating spoiled brown rice and how to safely store brown rice?

How to tell if brown rice is bad?

You can tell if brown rice has gone bad if you notice odd discoloration on the rice along with a foul or rancid smell. The moist texture of the rice is also an indicator as well as the presence of any insects or bugs.

Here you can find three sings that could help you to determine if your brown rice is bad:

  1. Textural changes: Cooked rice will become very dry, hard and brittle if they are kept in the storage for too long. Such rice should be discarded. Cooked rice develops a slimy texture as they go bad.
  1. Microbial growth or bugs: If you notice any signs of discolorations and mold growth on cooked or uncooked rice, throw them in the bin. 

You should be very careful with molds growing on your brown rice, as they can produce harmful mycotoxins that can be very dangerous for your health (1-2).

You should also be careful with the bacteria Bacillus cereus and Bacillus thuringiensis that are common contaminants of rice (3-4). 

You should not eat brown rice contaminated with these microorganisms as they can lead to intoxication or severe intestinal problems (5). 

Moreover, be aware that pantry bugs are also very common in uncooked rice if they have been mishandled during storage. You should also check for them!

  1. Rancid smell: If the rice develops an off smell or rancid flavor, they should be immediately discarded as this is a clear indication of spoilage.

Can you get sick from eating spoiled brown rice?

Yes, eating spoiled brown rice can expose you to different health hazards due to the presence of harmful pathogens and their toxins (1-4). 

For example, your rice can be contaminated by:

  • Bacterial contamination: If brown rice is stored improperly or for an extended period, it can become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as Bacillus cereus and Bacillus thuringiensis (3-4). 

These bacteria produce toxins that can cause food poisoning . Symptoms of this infection will include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and dehydration (5).

  • Mold contamination: When brown rice is exposed to moisture and inadequate storage conditions, molds can develop. Certain molds produce mycotoxins, which are toxic substances that can cause health problems when consumed (1-2). 

A common example is Aspergillus spp, which can produce different  mycotoxins such as aflatoxins (1-2). Ingesting aflatoxin-contaminated rice may lead to liver damage, jaundice, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, liver cancer (6).

Be aware that these symptoms can vary depending on an individual’s susceptibility, the specific type and level of contamination, and the overall health of the person. 

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten spoiled brown rice?

If you have eaten spoiled brown rice and suspect it may have caused adverse effects, there are several steps that you can follow to keep safe and avoid a severe intoxication:

  • First, immediately stop consuming the rice to avoid further exposure to harmful substances. 
  • Assess any symptoms you experience, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or allergic reactions. If symptoms are severe or persistent, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional. 
  • Provide them with details about the situation, including the appearance and smell of the rice, and how it was stored. 
  • You should also stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids if you have diarrhea or vomiting. 
  • Finally, remember that it is always very important to monitor your condition closely, and if symptoms worsen or persist, seek medical attention promptly. 

Remember that you should always handle and store your rice in a proper way to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.

How to properly store brown rice to prevent spoilage?

As long as the original paper bag or plastic packaging of brown rice is intact, it can be stored anywhere in the pantry or in the kitchen cabinet. The rule of thumb is to store it in a cool, dark and dry place.

You can follow the next recommendations if you want to prevent spoilage of your brown rice:

  • Regarding uncooked brown rice: After opening the package, you should transfer the brown rice to an air-tigth container or jar for further protection.
  • Regarding cooked brown rice: For storing cooked brown rice, keep it in an air-tight container for freezer bad and put it in the fridge. For freezing cooked brown rice, use freezer bags, squeeze out the air, label the bag and put it in the freezer.
  • Refrigerating and freezing will extend the shelf-life of the brown rice. For freezing uncooked brown rice, use freezer bags and squeeze out all the air from the bag before storing. For refrigerating, air-tight containers and freezer bags both work fine.

What is the shelf-life of brown rice?

The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of brown rice under different storage conditions.

In the pantryIn the fridge In the freezer
Uncooked brown rice3 months past the Best-by date 6 months pst the best-by date 12 months past the Best-by date 
Cooked brown rice 4-6 days 4-6 months 


In this article, we answered the question “How to tell if brown rice is bad?’, the health consequences of eating spoiled brown rice and how to safely store brown rice?


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