(Photo: SPH)

Waste not, want not.

For most of us, rather than wasting food, it's almost second nature to keep leftovers and save them for our next meal.

In fact, the concept of 'meal prep', which has been steadily gaining popularity here, involves preparing large quantities of food at the start of the week to last the next few days, and that can sometimes include grains like rice.

Being Asian, many of us can probably attest to having consumed reheated day-old rice without consequence, hence the idea of leftover rice being harmful to health almost sounds like a case of #fakenews.

However, Malaysia's Ministry of Health published an advisory on Facebook and Twitter on Monday (23 Dec 2019) cautioning against reheated rice, citing that it could potentially cause food poisoning.

Before you start panicking, the health board emphasises that it's not so much the act of reheating the rice, but the method of storage that's a cause for concern.

According to the post, if left at room temperature for more than four hours, bacterial spores in cooked rice become active and allows for bacillus cereus bacterias to breed.

This strain of bacteria, originally found in uncooked rice and can survive high temperatures, produces poisonous toxins that ultimately cause vomiting, diarrhoea and food poisoning.

Consuming rice that smells off or appears slimy would, therefore, be completely out of the question.

However, especially with Chinese New Year (and hence, reunion dinners) just around the corner, leftovers are unavoidable.

The National Health Service in the United Kingdom suggests cooling leftover rice within the hour and storing it in the fridge immediately after. Even then, the health board advises against keeping rice for more than a day and reheating it more than once.

Written by Rainer Cheung for Asiaone.