How to Tell If Brown Rice Has Gone Bad

Written by meg butler
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How to Tell If Brown Rice Has Gone Bad
Brown rice has a relatively short shelf life. (Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

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.

Skill level:


  1. 1

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

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

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

Tips and warnings

  • 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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