Problems with rice
Uncooked rice can contain spores of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. This spore is heat resistant and requires high temper.
If the rice is then cooled slowly the spore will germinate producing more bacteria. These bacteria produce poisons or toxins. Re-heating the rice will destroy some of the bacteria but they will level behind their toxins which are not damaged by heat. These toxins cause illness.
If the rice is left standing at room temperature the spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhoea.
The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.
Simple guidelines for the preparation and cooking of rice
- Wash the rice before cooking
- Use clean and disinfected equipment
- Keep cooked and uncooked rice in separate containers
- Never use hands to break up clumps of rice
- Cook in small quantities as near to time of service as possible
- Cool cooked rice quickly before putting in a fridge
- Cool rice under cold running water and let drain properly
- Keep cold cooked rice below 5 degrees centigrade
- Ensure uncooked rice is kept clean and dry
- Take care with stock rotation
Cooking and service
- Keep hot rice above 63 degrees centigrade
- Do not reheat cooked rice
- Do not use left overs
Tips on serving rice safely
- ideally, serve rice as soon as it has been cooked
- if that isn't possible, cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour)
- keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating
- when you reheat any rice, always check that the dish is steaming hot all the way through
- do not reheat rice more than once
- When rice is boiled but not immediately cooled, these spores may find the warmth and moisture needed to germinate into bacteria. Bacteria then start to multiply which may then leave a poison in the food.
- The poison produced (known as a toxin), is a natural by-product of the multiplying bacteria. The poison is also heat-resistant, so further reheating or cooking is unlikely to get rid of it.
What are the effects or symptoms of eating contaminated food?
The most common toxin or poison formed by this bacteria causes vomiting and abdominal pain. The symptoms may start one to six hours after eating contaminated food. The poison is not passed from one person to another and symptoms don't usually last longer than a day.
- Some Bacillus cereus bacteria may produce poison that causes fever and diarrhoea. The symptoms, which may be serious, usually start six to 24 hours after eating and can last for one or two days.
- As with other bacteria that cause illness from food, there is no way of telling that the food is contaminated. Cooked rice that contains poison produced by Bacillus cereus will not taste, smell or look any different to normal rice.
How do I control or prevent bacillus cereus? Serving the rice hot immediately after cooking is the easiest way to make sure it is safe to eat.
- If you are cooking rice in advance you shouldn't cook too much at once. Large amounts may take too long to cool.
- Caterers and cooks who cook rice before reheating for a customer's order later on, must make sure that once the rice has been cooked, it is cooled as rapidly as possible to stop bacteria cells from multiplying. This can be done by putting rice under cold running water and thoroughly rinsing it in a saucepan or colander until it is cool. This method will also wash away excess starch.
- Once you've drained the cooled rice, you should put it into sealed containers, and label and date the containers before storing them in a refrigerator between 1°C and 4°C.
- You can now use the rice in cold food dishes, which should be refrigerated while being stored or displayed.
- You can use refrigerated rice in hot dishes if it is thoroughly reheated (a minimum temperature of over 75°C is recommended) in a wok or in boiling water. Once the rice is hot, keep it hot and store it or display it at a minimum temperature of 63°C.
- You should only reheat rice once. Throw away any leftovers, and do not cool the rice again to be eaten later.
- You need to make sure that you have an efficient stock-rotation system so that you use your oldest rice first. Remember: FIFO ('first in first out').
Poultry - Chicken and Turkey
The main bacterial risks associated with poultry are Campylobacter and Salmonella. Always follow any instructions on packaging which may accompany the poultry.
Guidelines for Poultry - Chicken and Turkey
- buy from a reputable supplier
- store perishable foods in a fridge as soon as possible
- keep your fridge at below 8 degrees centigrade
- keep your freezer below minus 18 degrees centigrade
- never buy or consume food with an expired 'use by date'
- store cooked and raw food separately
- store cooked foods above raw foods
- always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after preparing raw food
- clean and disinfect kitchen work surfaces and utensils between the preparation of different foods
- keep pets out of the kitchen
- make sure frozen food is thawed completely before cooking - remove from the freezer and defrost in a cool place for no more than 12 hours, then continue the thawing process in a fridge (keep the poultry covered and in a deep container)
- make sure poultry is not exposed to any risk of contamination from people, plants, air, pets, and pests
- put the fully thawed poultry into a hot oven
- make sure the juices run clear and that the poultry is fully cooked
- if using a microwave oven allow standing times when stated
- do not reheat chicken more than once and ensure that it is re-heated thoroughly
- never re-freeze thawed poultry
Eggs should be stored in the fridge and used by the 'best before' date. Elderly or sick people, babies, young children and pregnant women should not eat raw or undercooked eggs.
Visit the British Egg Information Service and the British Egg Information Council website for advice on:
- egg safety
- Lion Quality
- egg products