How to Tell If Brown Rice Has Gone Bad

Updated February 21, 2017

Because it retains its natural fatty acids and oils, brown rice has a much shorter shelf life than white rice. The time from harvest to inedible is only six months. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to tell how long your rice was sitting on the shelf before you brought it home. It is easy to tell if brown rice has gone bad. Fresh brown rice grains have shiny surfaces and their packages are free of dust. Any other qualities in your brown rice may be a sign that it is time to throw it away.

Open the rice container. If it has a sour smell like rancid oil, it is bad.

Sift through the rice. If you see any fungus, insect eggs or foreign matter, throw it out.

Feel the rice. If it is dusty or oily, it is past its prime. Throw it out.


Rancid rice makes a great compost addition. You can extend brown rice's shelf life up to one year by vacuum sealing it or storing it in an airtight container and/or storing it in the refrigerator or the coolest, darkest spot in the house. Brown rice is often labelled with a "best by" date that extends 18 months after the date of manufacture. Nutritional scientist Ed Blonz recommends ignoring this date and consuming brown rice 6 months after purchase if not refrigerated or sealed.

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About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.