A few weeks before I got married, I came down with the worst case of food poisoning I’d ever experienced. The fault was entirely my own.
I’d mixed up a batch of pancake batter and (bachelor that I was) decided that I liked the texture of freshly cooked pancakes more than reheated ones. I left the batter in the refrigerator for a week, gamely cooking a few each day — and never thinking about the raw egg in the mixture.
Sure enough, I got so ill and so dehydrated that I landed in the hospital. Of course, I should’ve known that messing with raw egg had the potential to make me very, very sick.
But there is a world of foods and food-preparation techniques that can quickly lay you low. The worst part? Many of them aren’t as obvious as my awful pancake batter.
For example, did you know that you can get food poisoning from reusing a fabric shopping bag? Amongst those who want to remain environmentally conscious, such bags help avoid plastic or paper bags, which often end up in landfills.
Yet Consumer Reports pointed out that packages of raw meat often leak juices, which contain bacteria. When those juices soak into fabric and don’t get washed away, they could possibly contaminate other goods or surfaces and sicken you.
But sometimes washing is exactly what you don’t want to do. Plenty of people habitually rinse their poultry, yet this only spatters your sink and counter top with bacteria.
Even your smartphone poses a risk. According to Yahoo News UK, if you surf from site to site while cooking, looking for a particular recipe, you stand the chance of rubbing bacteria into its various nooks and crannies.
There’s one risky food, though, that I never thought would pose a problem. It’s rice.
Gulf News has pointed out that rice sometimes has a naturally occurring bacteria growing on it. That bacteria is called Bacillus cereus.
Like many such bacterium, it produces toxins, and those toxins can make you sick. However, the surprising part is that cooking the rice won’t necessarily kill B. cereus.
Sure, under-cooking definitely leaves more of this particular bacteria around. Yet even thoroughly cooking rice won’t always eradicate it.
Any rice left at room temperature for too long runs the risk of making you sick. There’s even an appropriate nickname for the illness: fried-rice syndrome.
Health experts recommend that you not leave your rice out on the counter after you’ve cooked it. Scoop it out of the pot, plunk it in a container, and stick that container in the fridge.
Don’t think that you can enjoy leftover rice for days either. Best practices dictate that you only reheat it once.
And when you do reheat old rice, make sure that it’s heated all the way through. That’s the best way to ensure that you don’t get the nausea and diarrhea associated with fried-rice syndrome.
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