National Vegetarian Week

It’s National Vegetarian Week and so we thought we would ask this question: “Can reheating rice cause food poisoning?”

The simple answer is YES!

However it is not the reheating that causes the problem but the way the rice has been stored before it was reheated. Many outbreaks of food poisoning which emerge from the catering industry are found to be caused by the inadequate cooking of food.

In some foods the bacterium that is associated with food poisoning is not eliminated by the cooking process and therefore, if food is held at temperatures ranging from room to very warm temperatures (20⁰C to 63⁰C) for a few hours, the spores of the bacteria germinate and multiply to dangerous levels. The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature the more likely it is that bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.

To cook rice we boil it for around 15-20 minutes, these spores survive the cooking process but present no risk provided that the rice is:

  • Served and eaten immediately
  • Kept hot above 63⁰C prior to eating
  • Cooled rapidly and then kept refrigerated or frozen at a temperature of 8⁰C or less

By following safe and sensible kitchen practices which apply usually to many other foods, the risk can be totally avoided and caterers can continue to let their customer benefit from one of the most natural and healthy foods available.

We recommend using a digital thermometer to safeguard and reduce the risk. Comark’s Pocketherm Folding Food Thermometer (see here) is ideal with HACCP temperature indicators with flashing LED and bleeps:

  • -18⁰C and below for Frozen
  • 0⁰C to +5⁰C for Chilled
  • +75⁰C and above for Cooked

Sources: NHS, Tilda guide to rice