Toxic mould in my rice cooker?
September 28, 2006 10:12 AM   Subscribe

What is this red mould in my rice cooker?

After cooking some rice in my rice cooker, I poured some water in to soften the rice at the bottom before I washed it.

A combination of being busy and laziness mean I still haven't washed it (I'm not normally this bad!) and there is now a vivid red mould growing in the wet rice.

Could anybody suggest what this mould might be and tell me how dangerous it is. Obviously I'm not intending to eat this stuff but I don't want to die simply from washing up. I'd rather just throw it away if that is the case!

I'll see if I can sort some pictures, but I doubt they will help much.
posted by 999 to Science & Nature (10 answers total)
Does it look like this, by any chance?
posted by owenkun at 10:20 AM on September 28, 2006

I think it might be more red than that. Monascus purpureus looks more purple than my mould does, though who knows whether my monitor's colours are correct.

I think I could describe it as almost blood-red, but slightly lighter.
posted by 999 at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2006

It's mold not mould; and on my monitor the linked pic looks very red.
posted by zeoslap at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2006

It's mould if you're British - and use of "colours" "sort" and "washing up" make me guess that the poster is.

Scrub it up really well and I'm sure you'll be fine. The mold spores likely either came from the rice or the air. If they were from the rice, you already ate them and were fine. If they were from the air, you've already breathed them and were fine.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:43 AM on September 28, 2006

Mould is a legit spelling of mold. Though it may, in fact, be slime. Could it be serratia marsescens? [PDF alert]
posted by desuetude at 10:43 AM on September 28, 2006

Years ago I managed restaurants and had to take a few Food Safety courses. It's been a while, but I do remember being taught that one strain of food poisoning bacteria does show a red colour if it's present in a large quantity. I'm sorry, I really can't remember which one, added to which my brain and Google just aren't getting along at the moment.

One thing I can tell you is that re-heated rice can be really dangerous. The Bacillus Cereus pathogen can be present in it, and you really don't want to be chowing down on that.

You won't die from washing up, but just be good and hygenic when you do it. The vast majority of pathogenic bacteria are killed at 63 degrees C (restaurants, in the UK at least, and this was a few years back so it might have changed slightly, should be reaching 70 degrees inside their washing up machines to ensure that what needs to be killed, is). I guess if you're really worried, if the pan can take it, and you have one, bung it in the dishwasher.
posted by TheDonF at 12:24 PM on September 28, 2006

Red sheets of grains?
posted by TheDonF at 2:18 PM on September 28, 2006

Since it grew in rice, my guess is some species of Aspergillus or Fusarium. Those are both very common, ubiquitous molds, and would grow well in the medium of wet rice.

I'd say it's most likely to be Fusarium, because as noted here it's a "common mycoflora of commodities such as rice" and because it may form red colonies. Also, I'm pretty sure the colony color can become pretty bright, so that jibes with the vividness you mentioned.

If you're not immunosuppressed, don't worry too much or throw away your rice cooker. If you want, after you wash it out, turn on the rice cooker with just water for some heat-kill cleaning so you feel better about using the cooker again.
posted by neda at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2006

Oh, and I forgot to say that Serratia marcescens, mentioned by desuetude, is a good guess as well. It is found on rice and forms red colonies.

I was just telling someone about "operation sea spray" (see the 1950 san francisco entry) earlier this week, so it's funny that S. marcescens comes up again.
posted by neda at 5:58 PM on September 28, 2006

If you're crazy worried, open the lid and pour some bleach in there. If your cooker is aluminum(or aluminium, pedants) don't use bleach, use alcohol.

Or you could just dump some soap in there and go at it. Walking across a busy street is probably higher on the risk scale.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:13 PM on September 28, 2006

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