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Must Cooked Rice be Refrigerated?

I have been told that cooked rice can be left out on the counter and eaten the next day without worry of contamination. I do not practice this with any food, but am concerned for my friend and her children, who does. Please tell me your thoughts so I can pass them on to her. Of course coming from a professional we will both learn.

We have a slightly old, extremely comprehensive, but not politically correct reference book that refers to one type of food-borne illness that most often "occurs among those who eat in Chinese restaurants." The author apparently thought at the time that few people in this country ate rice outside of a Chinese restaurant (and the book is not that old). But PC or not, the issue the book addresses is valid.

There is a form of bacteria (bacillus cereus) that occurs naturally in many samples of uncooked rice. It can survive the cooking process and multiply to harmful levels if the rice is allowed to cool for an extended period without refrigeration. Leftover cooked rice should be placed in a shallow container to allow it to cool quickly, and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for half a year or more.

To reheat the rice, add 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of cooked rice, cover and heat on top of the stove or an in oven until heated through (about 5 minutes). In a microwave oven, cover and cook on high for about 1 minute per cup. Frozen rice may be cooked for 2 minutes on high power per cup. Fluff the rice with a fork.

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