Bacillus Cereus in Rice

Rice is one of the hazardous foods which doesn't seem hazardous. It's not an animal product, not protein and seems fairly harmless. However, many food handlers do not handle rice properly which results in food poisoning caused by Bacillus Cereus. This organism is naturally found in the environment where the rice is grown. Due to sloppy technique, the organism grows rapidly in the Danger Zone and can cause a foodborne illness. One of my restaurants prepared a pot of rice on a Thursday morning, but didn't serve the rice until Saturday night. Guess what happened to the rice over that time period? It was left out on the counter for 3 days, reheated and served Saturday evening. Twenty-seven customers became ill with Bacillus Cereus food poisoning and suffered flu-like symptoms for a few days. The restaurant had to change their technique in preparing the rice:

*Cook it hot and serve immediately.

*Cook, cool down and refrigerate to serve later.

*Eat up the rice and finish or refrigerate the leftovers.

*Discard rice that has been sitting in the Danger Zone for longer than 2 hours.

Restaurant staff who prepare rice safely will reduce the risk of Bacillus Cereus food poisoning.

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ENVIRO-FOOD CONSULTING is a foodservice consulting business run by Sally de la Rue Browne, Certified Public Health Inspector and Food Safety Specialist.

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