Does Rice Go Bad? Shelf Life, Expiration Dates, and More

how long does rice last in the fridge

Did you know that around 180 million tons of rice are wasted annually?

And, according to the UN Environmental Program, that waste comes at home.

So, if you ever wonder why your cooked rice gets spoiled even if you think that it is stored properly in the fridge, remember, there are factors.

These factors affect how long rice lasts in the fridge and in this article, you will learn those factors along with the techniques on how to process the rice after storing it in your refrigerator.

How Long Does Rice Last and How To Tell If It’s Bad?

Rice and rice field

Dry Rice and its Lifespan

Dry rice is the uncooked rice or cereal grain stored in your kitchen cupboard or cabinet and its lifespan depends on the rice variety.

Although there are many types of grains, the main difference with regards to the lifespan of these uncooked rice is whether they are white or brown rice (wild rice).

White Rice vs Brown Rice Lifespan

According to the US Food Safety and Inspection Service, both uncooked or dry white rice and brown rice can be safely stored at room temperature.

However, according to a study published in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, brown rice has a higher oil and fat content compared to white rice. 

In other words, brown rice can become spoiled more rapidly than white rice, with the following specific lifespan below:

  • White Rice – up to 2 years
  • Brown Rice – 3-6 months after the date of manufacture

Take note that there are labels for grains, and, as a consumer, you can refer to them. However, for best quality, you can refer to the information stated above.

How to Tell if the Dry Rice Has Soured

Every FDA-approved food has its expiry date and this goes the same for dry grains. 

But, how can you tell if the cereal grains have deteriorated without looking at the expiration date?

For this, you might want to take a look at some of the spoilage signs below:

  • Holes
  • Discoloration
  • Rancid or off smell
  • Oily texture
  • Appearance of bugs
  • Dampness

Any of these might lead to mold growth. Thus, to promote and extend the quality of your grains, it is advised to follow healthy storage conditions such as storing it in a cool, dry place, or an airtight container. 

Shelf Life of Cooked and Freeze Cooked Rice 

Now, let us talk about the lifespan of your cooked brown and white rice.

You might be worried about how long your leftover cereal grains will last after a huge party, and, still, the answer would be it depends. 

After cooking rice, the food has an indefinite shelf life.

Generally, cooked brown rice and cooked white rice last for 3-4 days or up to one week when properly stored in the ref.

Moreover, frozen rice or freeze rice can last for 6-8 months as long as the temperature in the freezer constantly stays at 0°F.

Factors that Affects the Lifespan of Cooked Rice

So, if newly prepared brown or white rice can last up to one week in the refrigerator and 6-8 months in the freezer, what are the factors that can reduce this period?

1) Unrefrigerated for too long

You will only have 2 hours to refrigerate your hot white or wild rice because if you let cooked rice sit at room temperature longer than that period, the tendency is that the texture and taste will start to change.

Apart from this, bacteria may also start to grow after 2 hours at room temperature (68 °F).

According to the US Department of Agriculture, bacteria such as Bacillus cereus may grow rapidly at a temperature between 40 °F and 140 °F.

Moreover, take note that even when you re-cook your cereal grains, the spores of Bacillus cereus may still survive which can cause you food poisoning.

Because of this, it is safe to say that refrigerating your cooked white rice or brown rice within a matter of less than two hours will help you keep your cereal grains optimal, healthy, and perfectly safe to eat.

2) Reheated cold rice more than a couple of times

Another factor that affects your newly prepared cereal grains’ sustainability is if it is cooled and reheated multiple times.

Remember, you cannot refrigerate rice back after reheating it even if you put it in the freezer!

What you can only do is get enough which you can consume or finish and heat that specific amount.

The golden rule? Never reheat refrigerated rice more than once.

3) Condition of the refrigerator

The condition of your refrigerator may also be a culprit why your cooked rice gets spoiled even after a day of refrigerating it.

If your ref is dry, you will also get dry and hard cereal grains. Unfortunately, dry rice also means spoiled or expired rice.

If your ref is too moist, your cereal grains may become susceptible to bacteria and you will know this if there are already some changes in the smell (unpleasant smell or strange smell).

Signs that the Cooked Rice Has Gone Off

Aside from noticing that the rice smells funny, there are other signs that your cooked or hot rice has gone bad. Some of these changes include the following:

  • Taste changes (sour)
  • The texture is moist and slimy
  • Mold starts to appear (green, blue, or black spots)
  • The cereal grains become hard and super dry (a clear sign)

If any of these signs are observed, it is highly advised to discard your food to avoid dangerous health outcomes.

How to Properly Store Leftover Rice in the Refrigerator

As said, even though you store your grains in the refrigerator, they can still be spoiled.  So, what are the proper ways to store cooked rice in the ref?

Take a look at some tips below:

  • Store your cooked rice in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag
  • Keep your fridge clean
  • Reheat properly

Again, if you want to store your cooked rice in the fridge for a longer period, you can freeze it (put it in the freezer) and store it in a heavy-duty freezer bag.

Dangers of Eating Spoiled Rice

Even if cooked rice lasts for a few days up to 7 days in the fridge, what would happen if you accidentally, or not, eat spoiled cereal grains?

Take note that when your cooked cereal grain is spoiled, molds and bacteria have already taken over.

According to a study in Korea, these molds and bacteria in your cereal grains will produce mycotoxins which are responsible for food poisoning.

Furthermore, according to the US Department of Agriculture, this would cause the following side effects:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakened immune system
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

So, if you do not want any of these health dangers to happen to you, follow the safety protocols regarding storing and consuming your cooked rice!

If you want to know more about the dangers of eating spoiled cereal grains and how to properly cook rice, feel free to read this article from the FDA.

Finals Thoughts

Indeed, properly storing dry and cooked rice is essential to keep the foods healthy and safe to eat.

And, when we talk about cooked rice, the best way to increase its lifespan is by refrigerating it within 2 hours after being cooked.

When it is properly refrigerated, this cooked rice may last up to a week, and if it is stored in the freezer, cooked rice lasts for up to 8 months.

However, in case any changes in the cooked rice appear, it is advised to discard the rice to avoid poisoning.