Is It Safe To Eat Raw Rice?

Food is an essential human survival need that nourishes the body with vital nutrients, which enable a host of functions ranging from repair and growth to regulation of bodily function (via National Geographic). A less matter-of-fact way to phrase that is: food is life. But not all food is life-sustaining. In fact, some everyday foods contain toxins that can cause serious side effects and in some cases death (per WedMD). For example, a type of Amanita mushroom, commonly known as the death cap, can cause diarrhea, coma, liver failure, vomiting, and can also be lethal. You might wonder: how did humans come to determine which foods are nourishing, and which ones are potentially lethal?

Lucky for us, Charles Darwin proposed an evolutionary answer to this question, reports National Geographic. Darwin claimed that humans became hardwired with a disgust response as a preventative measure against bad foods for the survival of the species. Today, scientists agree that disgust is tied to the immune system and is a primal survival instinct. But there are reasons why people would try potentially non-nutritive foods. Curiosity, for one, is always pushing people to explore. A rare medical condition, known as pica, compels people to eat non-foods or abnormal ingredients, like raw rice (per Doctor NDTV). Rice is a food, but you might wonder if raw rice is safe to eat for humans. The answer may surprise you.

Cook your rice before you eat it

For some animals, like the finch, raw rice is acceptable to eat (via Avian Report). In fact, some birds are considered pests at rice plantations because they eat so much of it. Humans, on the other hand, should not eat raw rice, says WebMD. Uncooked rice contains a bacterium referred to as Bacillus cereus, which can cause serious food poisoning when consumed from raw rice. 

Symptoms of food poisoning can include diarrhea, dehydration, nausea, and vomiting. Beyond food poisoning, eating raw rice can cause gastrointestinal issues (via Healthline). Since raw rice contains lectins, a natural insecticide, it can cause damage to the lining of the gut. Notably, lectins can also actively prevent the body from absorbing nutrients at normal capacity. In short, it is not part of a healthy human diet. Luckily, cooking rice is an easy task with the right supplies. For white rice, simply rinse the rice (per Food Network). Then place one part of the rice in a pot for every two parts of water. Once it's boiling, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.