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Old 05-25-2008, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Surrounded by books
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How long is leftover fried rice safe to eat?

When I was growing up, my mom always claimed Chinese food went bad after one day as leftovers. I've eaten leftover food two days past getting it, but I won't eat anything after that. What has everyone else's experience been?
Old 05-25-2008, 04:00 PM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
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Oh, that's ridiculous.
I've eaten Chinese food that's been in the fridge for 10 days with no problems.
Most people are simply overly cautious.
Old 05-25-2008, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: South Bay
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Freeze it, and it'll last real long. I freeze rice and then heat it up in the microwave. Good as new.
Old 05-25-2008, 04:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Santa Barbara
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If it smells and looks OK, and you taste a smidgeon of it and it tastes OK, it's probably OK.
Old 05-25-2008, 04:34 PM
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Most cooked food is good for 1 to 2 weeks in a fridge, provided it didn't sit out for hours slowly cooling from hot to room temperature when it was first served before getting into the fridge.

Yesterday I ate pork chops I'd barbequed 2 Saturdays ago. 14 days in the fridge & just fine.
Cynicism is Evil. It provides an excuse to expect nothing but the worst from others while simultaneously excusing all the worst in yourself. It's lazy, selfish, and ignorant all tightly wrapped into a toxic ball of nasty.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 05-25-2008 at 04:34 PM.
Old 05-25-2008, 05:30 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
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Originally Posted by Darryl Lict
If it smells and looks OK, and you taste a smidgeon of it and it tastes OK, it's probably OK.
Maybe, maybe not. Smell just isn't a reliable indicator to whether food contains sufficient populations of pathogenic bacteria (or their residual toxins) to make you ill. Many of the common food poisoning bugs don't make the food smelly.

It's true that food - especially if left unrefrigerated - will often be unsafe by the time it becomes unpleasant, but the reverse is not true.
Old 05-25-2008, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 8,118
It all depends upon how you store it, and how long it took to get from eating hot down to chilled.

Leave rice out at ambient and it could easily be unsafe after just 3 hours. The law in the UK requires that rice, and other hot foodstuffs must be cooled from 145F down to 43C in 90 minutes or less, I reckon the US FDA will be at least as strict.

As for Darryl Lict's comment, this is seriously misinformed and could be very dangerous indeed.

This is extremely bad advice I assume that this poster does not understand the risks - do not follow this advice, repeat this is a very dangerous assumption to make

The main problem with food poisoning and also foodborne illness is that pathogens can and usually do build up to seriously harmful levels long before you can smell or taste or even feel (texture changes).

The agents that cause food spoilage are commonly not actually pathogenic, however food may still be unacceptable even if not actually dangerous.

Storage at chilled,

If you can set your fridge to around 37F then your food will be stored safer for significantly longer than stored at 40F, I would not go for a lower chilled storage temp than this, as you can't rely on the accuracy of thermostats and you might end up soft freezing food, and I would not try to store at 43F because you might end up with a fridge that is too warm - again, due to innacurracies in the thermostat.

Despite all this, storing cooked meats for longer than a week is not a very wise thing to do, the average household kitchen is not a particularly clean place in terms of food safety, those temperatures on the chart I have linked are more appropriate for food businessess which are doing all the correct procedures, in the home I would reduce the storage time by maybe 25%.

Beowulff If you make a practice of eating leftover rice, maybe a few days old, and from a chilled storage, you may well have some sort of temporary tolerance, but don't count on it.

The main cause for concern is Bacillus Cereus which is a food poisoning agent in and of itself and even if you recook it, the bacteria may have formed toxins which are not readily destroyed by heating.(it would depend upon the exact bacillus sub-type)

When you cook rice, most of the bacteria are destroyed except for Bacillus Cereus which has the ability to form protective spores. Once the temperature drops below 55C or thereabouts, those spores reactivate, but now there is no other bacterial competition, which means that this bug will multiply much faster.

We tend to play fast and loose with food, take your Moms advice, better still, rice is cheap enough, cooks quickly enough, its just sheer laziness to store cooked rice without freezing or preserving, why take the risk.

Just to add, cooking destroys other bugs too, but storing cooked rice allows it the chance to get contaminated with something else, and once you know what they can do to you, then you'd never take the chance ever.

Look around the net, there is a huge amount of advice, beware and make sure to stick to either Farenheit or Celsius, do not use both - mistakes can be made.

Sorry to go on lecturing here, but the OP has been given risky and downright dangerous tips, ignore these people please what I have told you is absolutely accurate, follow my advice or be ill.

Last edited by casdave; 05-25-2008 at 05:56 PM.
Old 05-25-2008, 05:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 8,118
Please observe the following temperature correction.

Leave rice out at ambient and it could easily be unsafe after just 3 hours. The law in the UK requires that rice, and other hot foodstuffs must be cooled from 145F down to 43F in 90 minutes or less, I reckon the US FDA will be at least as strict.
Old 05-26-2008, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arvada, CO
Posts: 1,656
I agree with casdave for the most part, but I would just like to add the US perspective to this. Every county will have different requiremnets, but the general rules to follow, in regards to cooling and heating foods are:
  • Hot food should be cooled from above 140F to below 40F in less then 4 hours.
  • Cold food should be heated from below 40F to above 165F in less then 2 hours, and should be held at 165F for atleast 30 seconds.
  • Warm food can be held for at most 4 hours at a temperature of 140F or higher.
These are the maximum times allowed by most health departments. The faster you cool hot food, and the faster you reheat cold food, the longer it can be safely stored.

I imagine your mother put the rice into the fridge inside a sealed container. The rice could take 2-3 days to fully cool in that situation, depending on the temp of the fridge and the quantity of the rice. I would recommend that you spread the rice out over a large plate or baking pan, no more then 1/2 inch thick, and place it into your fridge. When it is fully cooled (read: less then 40F) you can transfer it into a clean container (read: not the original take out box) and store it for a few days. In my professional experience, properly cooled foods like rice and pasta can be stored for about 3-4 days. Cooked meats can last for up to a week.

A note about freezing: Do not attempt to freeze food when it is still hot. Cool the food properly in the fridge, then transfer it to an appropriate container for freezing. Despite the lower temperature, freezers generally cool slower then refrigerators because of reduced convection/air movement. It is possible for the outer layers to freeze below 32F before the inner layers cool to 40F, which results in slower cooling, and therefore spoilage.
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