We all know that food which is way past its use-by date is likely harbouring a heap of bacteria that can quickly lead to food poisoning in the shape of vomiting or diarrhoea. In general, people are pretty good at avoiding food that is obviously growing mould or smells ‘off’—but have you ever considered foods that could be potentially dangerous without looking so? Eating leftovers are a great way of saving time through meal prep and making sure you know what’s going into your meals, however, there are some surprising foods that you should think twice about reheating; especially if they haven’t been stored properly.
If rice is part of your meal prep routine (and let’s face it—it’s a popular pick as a low GI, gluten-free grain), you’ll want to make sure that you follow a few food safety guidelines to avoid getting sick when reheating it. Eating reheated rice can lead to food poisoning if you’re not careful after first cooking it. The problem is not with reheating the rice itself, but with how you handle it in the first place. After cooking rice, you should not let it sit out for more than an hour. Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. That bacteria can survive even after the rice is cooked, and the longer rice is left out at room temperature, the greater the chances that the bacteria will multiply and potentially produce toxins.
It turns out that spuds are in a similar position to rice when it comes to their propensity for poisoning… As reported by The Independent, the issue with reheating potatoes isn’t actually the process of warming them in the microwave or oven—it’s that if cooked potatoes are left to cool at room temperature for too long, the bacteria that causes botulism may form. Reheating doesn’t t always get the potato hot enough to kill the bacteria, even if the dish seems piping hot, so basically if you didn’t tuck your potatoes away in the fridge right after serving, don’t risk food poisoning by eating them the next day.
Our fave little fungi’s actually contain proteins that can be damaged by enzymes and bacteria if not stored properly—for example if they’re left at room temperature for too long. Reheating and consuming mushrooms that have deteriorated in this way can lead to very upset stomachs… If you have to reheat mushrooms, the European Food Information Council recommends warming them to at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit (around 70 degrees celsius).
Business Insider have reported that nitrate in spinach can be converted to nitrates and then to nitrosamines by reheating—and some nitrosamines are carcinogenic and can affect the body’s ability to carry oxygen. These findings had been backed by the European Food Information Council, so might be best to steer clear of microwaved spinach until further notice…
We all know that undercooked and raw eggs carry serious food poisoning risks, but the FDA also warns against reheating dishes that contain eggs—especially if they’ve been out of the fridge for more than two hours, or one hour in hot weather. This is because bacteria such as salmonella can multiply rapidly in egg dishes and lead to serious (and we mean serious) food poisoning. No thanks!
Although it isn’t technically true that you can’t reheat chicken, getting the process right is absolutely crucial to ensure safe consumption. Basically, you need to make sure that every single part of the chicken has reached a temperature of at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure dangerous bacteria are killed, and you can only really do that with the use of a thermometer. So unless you want to carry one around with you to rehear your leftovers in the staff kitchen, it might be worth steering clear. When it comes to chicken, you also need to be super strict with throwing away any cooked chicken that’s been around for more than three days.