What is reheated rice syndrome and how to avoid it?

Rice is a versatile food and is highly regarded in the kitchen because it can accompany many meals. It is one of the most commonly used ingredients for preparing dishes in advance, a practice that helps reduce food waste.

However, when rice is cooked and stored improperly, the food can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, “particularly Bacillus cereus,” says Marta Rives, a first-aid trainer in Spain.

According to the expert, symptoms of food poisoning due to Bacillus cereus bacteria can include “nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.” “These symptoms generally develop within 6 to 15 hours after eating contaminated rice and can last up to 24 hours,” says Marta Reeves.

“After those first 24 hours, Bacillus cereus starts to grow quite easily in that type of food and contaminate it,” explains food safety expert Mario Sanchez, who adds that the bacteria contaminate the original food in some way. It also synthesizes and secretes toxins, which are particularly concerning because they can withstand cooking temperatures, which is the problem. “This way, even if you think you can kill bacteria with simple reheating, it is not the case: “Even if we cook, we do not destroy the bacteria or toxins,” he stresses.

Bacteria multiplication
Bacillus cereus is a spore-producing bacteria that can contaminate food and produces two types of food poisoning in its consumers: diarrhea and vomiting (which causes vomiting).

When rice is refrigerated and stored at room temperature, these spores can easily transform into bacteria. In this sense, rice becomes an ideal environment for these bacteria to reproduce and grow. Simple oversight, such as leaving cooked rice out of the refrigerator for too long, can lead to a massive outbreak of Bacillus cereus in the dish.

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If it is necessary to store it, it is recommended to store cooked rice immediately in the refrigerator so that the grains do not have a chance to reach room temperature.

“The term overheated rice syndrome refers to food poisoning caused by the bacteria Bacillus cereus. This bacteria is common in starchy products such as rice or pasta. This is due to the ability to convert starch into glucose and bacteria like that,” says Vicky van der Vossen, a food safety expert. .

Experts agree that the best way to reheat is in a pan to reach a good temperature and thus kill potential bacteria.

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