If I left my rice out for 12 hours, is it unsafe to eat?
November 19, 2005 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I made some rice pilaf yesterday morning, ate some, and left it in the pot until I came home at night, when I promptly stuck it in the fridge. Is it safe to eat?
posted by sirion to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Probably. Depending on what all is in there. I've made a lot of things, had them sit out overnight (pretty dumb, really), and ate them the next day with no problem. If there is no meat, egg, cheese, etc, I don't think there's anything to worry about.
posted by BradNelson at 9:30 AM on November 19, 2005

I think you'll be fine. I come from a household of reckless food-safety rebels, where we would make a big pot of soup (with chicken! And sometimes eggs!) and leave it on the top of the stove till it was gone. And yet here I am, safe and sound. 12-hour rice pilaf wouldn't even register on my "potentially deadly" radar.
posted by hilatron at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2005

Yeah, I'm sure it's fine. I leave stuff out all the time and suffer no ill effects from eating it. Unless you have IBS or a really righteous roach problem in your house, you ought to be good.
posted by Gator at 9:35 AM on November 19, 2005

A mailing list I'm on just debated the idea of getting sick from rice. Some folks pointed to this case of food poisoning associated with rice. I guess it's prone to bacterial contamination.

Honestly though, it doesn't sound like you left it out long enough to have to worry about such things.
posted by jdl at 9:40 AM on November 19, 2005

Eat it at your own risk.
posted by the cuban at 9:41 AM on November 19, 2005

I'd also say it should be safe, however, here's an answer to this question that warns about the bacterial contamination issue that jdl mentioned above:
Must cooked rice be refrigerated?

Also here: Producing Cooked Rice Safely
posted by funambulist at 9:55 AM on November 19, 2005

if you're wondering about it, you shouldn't eat it ... better to err on the side of safety
posted by pyramid termite at 10:33 AM on November 19, 2005

if you're wondering about it, you shouldn't eat it ... better to err on the side of safety

Immune systems need exercise. If you never eat "dangerously" (and like many other posters I don't consider this at all dangerous) then you'll be unable to do so.
posted by Aknaton at 11:02 AM on November 19, 2005

I'd eat it, but then I'm not too germ-crazy. Starches left out for a little bit certainly don't get bad in the way meat and dairy does.
posted by abbyladybug at 11:04 AM on November 19, 2005

I'd eat rice until it starts to smell bad (which takes several days, left in the fridge). But I'd heat it up first, ideally as part of new stir-fry.
posted by Rash at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2005

if in doubt, throw it out.
posted by CrazyJoel at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2005

Every time threads like this happen, people give anecdotal stories about how they did X all the time and never got sick. Anecdotes aren't useful for this kind of question, however - the decision is about risk management for the future, not about things that actually have happened. The odds of food poisoning seem to be somewhat low no matter what, but that doesn't mean that leaving food out overnight doesn't significantly increase them, and from anecdotes, we have no idea what they are or how much that increases them by. These are the things that you'd really want to know.
posted by advil at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2005

if the odds of food poisoning seem to be somewhat low no matter what, then why does it matter what they increase by overnight? and how are you going to make forecasts of the future without looking at what happened in the past?

post a question asking how many people have successfully shot their brains out and you'll see what i mean; the fact that people are posting anecdotes does have some information content, particularly when it seems that the biggest problem is not the risk from the food, but the way dangers like these are blown out of all proportion by out current culture. cars kill way way way more people than food poisoning, yet no-one posts questions about whether or not they should go for a drive, or cross the road.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:49 PM on November 19, 2005

I say scarf it on down.

Amen to the Aknaton.
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2005

Good point. Nevertheless, I'll share an anecdote - my Filipino and Vietnamese friends have said they routinely leave rice in the cooker overnight and eat it in the morning.
posted by Geektronica at 2:32 PM on November 19, 2005

well, pilaf has chicken broth.
posted by CrazyJoel at 3:14 PM on November 19, 2005

Another vote for eating it
posted by lpctstr; at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2005

My official advice: Don't under any circumstances go near that rice.

But yeah, I'd probably eat it.
posted by Opposite George at 5:04 PM on November 19, 2005

I'd second the whole "wouldn't even register" point from above.

for 12 hours, hell, I wouldn't even cook it before I ate it. Unless it had meat in it, then I'd microwave it. Longer than 12 hours... ok, so you should probably nuke it, and meat longer than 12 hours should be "more than nuked"... throw it in a pyrex dish in the oven and bake it for a while, just to be sure.

Of course, I don't have kids, and Im not sure if things would change when dealing with kids (alright, I'd probably be more careful, but have less time on my hands, so things probably wouldn't change)
posted by hatsix at 7:48 PM on November 19, 2005

how are you going to make forecasts of the future without looking at what happened in the past?

I didn't mean to suggest that you could, just that if you're trying to use the past in this way, you need a large, balanced sample, and 1-element samples can be highly misleading. If the odds increase from 0 to 5% overnight this would be enough to give me pause at least, just because while food poisoning doesn't seem to kill people much, it can be really really horribly unpleasant if you do get it. But this is the kind of information I think would be needed to make decisions like this, and you just can't get it from small samples.
posted by advil at 7:49 PM on November 19, 2005

Of course it's safe. Curries, for example, actually taste better when eaten the next day. And that includes any curry or casserole or rice dish with the meat on the bone. Kedgeree (rice dish with fish and boiled egg) is also fine like that.

Also - a tip for the festive season. If you don't like leaving a turkey carcass in the fridge for days on end as you gradually pick at it, strip it of the meat, stick it in a *large* pan with herbs and spices and veggies, and make stock out of it.

The stock, assuming you've skimmed the scum off the surface while it's forming, will keep without refrigeration for at least a week as long as it's tightly covered. It's great for turkey and ham soup, for example.

Ditto any fat from your festive ham. If you put that in a glass jug or bowl, and cover it with cling-film, it will keep for a fortnight and you can just take big, sticky swipes out of it with a knife when you want to fry things. Heaven.
posted by paperpete at 5:08 AM on November 20, 2005

Anyhow Sirion, did you eat the rice? Did it give you the shits?
posted by the cuban at 6:15 AM on November 20, 2005

There's no way to know whether it's safe to eat. It probably is, but there's no way to be certain. If you contaminated it when you served from it the day prior, those bacteria could have been reproducing all day long at room temperature, spreading throughout the dish. Rice in particular is almost always contaminated with B. cereus and the spores are extremely hardy; they want special conditions to desporulate and start growing, but who knows if those conditions weren't present in your pot somewhere?

One of my professors compares things like this to playing roulette in Vegas. You might go a long time before your number hit, but if you keep on playing double zero, eventually it's going to come up.

The general rule often heard is "Keep hot foods hot, keep cold foods cold." It's a good rule and it helps to minimize your risk. The rule could be restated, "Don't leave foods lying around at room temperature," because this is how people get into trouble.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2005

« Older Help me debug this simple CSS problem before I put...   |   How do I easily pickle vegetables? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.