Asked by: Jenny Porter, Swansea
Dormant bacteria (spores) called Bacillus cereus can be found lurking in uncooked rice. The bacteria transfer to the rice from paddy field soil and their spores last for years, even surviving cooking. But when cooked rice is left at room temperature, the warm, damp conditions awaken the bacteria and they produce toxins that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
The trick is to serve and eat rice as soon as it has been cooked. If you do need to keep it for a later sitting, cool it as quickly as possible and transfer straight to the fridge.
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.