It's been a bad month for rice lovers. A couple of weeks ago, a study revealed that boiling rice can expose many to unsafe amounts of arsenic. Another study has found that the way we've been storing rice is quite dangerous as well.
According to Dr. Ben Chapman, a Food Safety Specialist from North Carolina State University, cooking rice doesn't always kill all the pathogens. "The issue with rice is that one pathogen, Bacillus Cereus, is quite prevalent in dried rice (some sources say ubiquitous), likely as spores. The spores may survive cooking," he said according to Skillet.
From there, many people leave their cooked rice out at room temperatures, creating the perfect environment for the spores to multiply. Leaving it out at the dinner table or in a lunch box can increase the risk of food poisoning. According to the CDC, it's reported that the United States sees nearly 63,000 cases of Bacillus Cereus alone, few of which are fatal.
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"If cooked rice is subsequently held at room temperature, the spores can come out of their protective form, germinate, and vegetative forms multiply. The cooked rice environment provides a lot of water and nutrients for growth. As a by-product of growth, they create a couple of toxins, including a heat-stable one," Chapman explained.
Instead, rice should be cooked very hot (above 63 degrees celsius) or cooled and transferred to a refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking.
But, food experts are more concerned with how restaurants store rice. Sure, cooking up one batch for the day is easier and saves time and money. But Rutger's Dr. Donald Shaffner believes this practice can be linked to many outbreaks in the past. Consequently, doctors are calling for restaurants to be more vigilant in how they store their food.