Is it dangerous to reheat rice? It’s a question we are often asked – yet the hazards involved in reheating rice are actually caused by improper storage rather than simply warming previously cooked rice – and actually apply to many other foods, too!
The reason that it is considered dangerous to reheat rice is that rice contains a naturally occurring bacteria called Bacillus cereus. Cooking the rice activates the spores of this bacteria – but, if the rice is then properly stored, it is safe to eat and to reheat (once) if needed.
The danger, however, arises when the cooked rice is held for too long at an inappropriate temperature (between 15 deg C to 40 deg C). Normal ‘room temperature’ falls within this range.
What happens then is that the spores develop into bacteria, producing the toxins that cause the symptoms of food poisoning (vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort).
These toxins CANNOT be destroyed by subsequently reheating the rice – so, whether you serve the rice cold or piping hot, it is STILL unsafe to eat.
And whilst improperly stored rice is the most common source of foodborne illness from Bacillus cereus, there are other foods that may be responsible. Potatoes and pasta may contain the bacteria – but so, too, may many other foods, including meat and seafood.
The safest option, then, is to ensure that ALL foods you cook for your baby are cooled as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour), by placing them in shallow containers. They must then be transferred immediately to the fridge or freezer and stored at the correct temperature.
Some sources suggest that you may store rice in the refrigerator for up to 4 days – however, when making baby food we prefer to use the rice the day on which it was made, or to freeze it for later use.
From our blog – Four Easy Baby Food Ideas Using Leftover Rice
More information about heating baby food
Read our tips for avoiding foodborne illness when making baby food