Because it retains its natural fatty acids and oils, brown rice has a much shorter shelf life than white rice. Brown rice keeps for no more than six months. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to tell how long your rice was sitting on the shelf before you bought it. 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 and smell the contents. If it has a sour smell, like rancid oil, it is bad.

Sift through the rice and look for visible mold, bugs, insect eggs or foreign matter. If you find these, the rice is bad.

Feel the rice. If it is dusty or oily, it is past its prime and no longer good.


  • Add unused rice to your compost pile.

  • Extend brown rice’s shelf life up to one year by vacuum sealing it or storing it in an airtight container or storing it in the refrigerator or the coolest, darkest spot in the house.

  • Brown rice is often labeled with a “best by” date that extends 18 months after the date of manufacture. While it may be safe for this long, the taste and texture will deteriorate within six months.