How safe is your food – rice?

Rice is consumed on a daily basis by probably more people than any other food on Earth, but is it safe?

Food safety

Although it may be a surprise to many people, cooked rice (and pasta) is what is known as a potentially hazardous food. This means that if it is not handled properly it will allow food poisoning bacteria to grow and can make people very sick.

Uncooked rice will not allow these bacteria to grow even when they are already on the rice because there is no water, but once you cook it, bacteria can grow easily, especially if the cooked rice is not handled properly.

Cooked rice, like all potentially hazardous foods needs to be kept below 5C to slow bacterial growth or above 60C to kill any bacteria present.

People do get sick  from cooked rice and it is usually because they leave it out at room temperature, in the mistaken belief that nothing can grow in rice.

There is one type of bacteria in particular, that loves to grow in cooked rice, Bacillus cereus, and it can cause food poisoning with both vomiting and diarrhoea. Although it is not all that common, it  does happen and is always because people have not handled their cooked rice properly.

So once you have cooked rice (and pasta), serve whatever you need for the meal and then place the remainder into shallow containers and place the lid 2/3 of the way across the top. Leave on the bench for no more than 20 minutes to allow the steam to vent and then place the lid on and put into the fridge. It can be kept in the fridge (as long as it is at less than 5C) for no more than five days.


There are several ways to cook rice, but with all it is essential to not overcook it. The most common way used to cook rice is to place it into boiling water until it is just soft, which takes around 15 minutes depending upon the type of rice. During this time the rice will expand dramatically as it absorbs water. Therefore you will need at least two cups of water for every cup of uncooked rice.

Rice cookers are now almost as commonly used in homes as in commercial kitchens and essentially use the boiling cooking method to cook the rice and then keep it at above 60C until it is needed.

There are basically four types of rice; white, brown, black and wild.

White rice has many varieties (around 40000 worldwide), depending upon what the rice will be used for and where it is grown and used , including those commonly seen in supermarkets; long grain, short grain, Arborio, Jasmine, Rissotto and Basmati.

Brown rice still contains the hull and bran that is removed in white rice. It takes longer to cook, and has a higher fibre content and lower glycemic index than white rice. This means that brown rice is particularly good for diabetics and those wanting to lose weight.

Black rice is a member of the rice family and is slightly sweet and nutty. It can be used in the same way as both brown and white rices. It originally came from China and is black due to a high content of anthocyanins.

Wild rice is actually not rice at all, it is in fact four types of a particular grass species. It has a nutty flavour and maintains it's shape after cooking. It is often blended with white rice to give texture, flavour and enhanced appearance to a dish.


One cup of cooked white rice typically has the following;

  • 205 calories
  • 44.5g Carbohydrate
  • 0.6g Fibre
  • 0.1g Sugars
  • 4.25g Protein (around 8% of Daily Intake)
  • 0.26mg Thiamin
  • 2.3mg Niacin
  • 92micrograms Folate
  • 16mg Calcium
  • 1.9g Iron
  • 68mgMagnesium
  • 0.75mg Manganese

Interesting Facts

  • Grown in 100 countries
  • 60% of all food consumed in South East Asia is rice
  • Rice and Wheat are the two most important grains and feed most of the world daily
  • First planted in the USA in 1647
  • Grown in Europe from the 16th century
  • Introduced to china around 3000BC
  • Brown rice is likely to have been indigenous to India
  • 95% of rice is grown and used in Asia

If you have found these facts about Rice interesting, why not pick up 500 more Foodie Facts when you get your FREE copy of Five Hundred Foodie Facts at



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