There is no accurate way of stating the shelf life of any food items. There are many factors which determine the shelf life of food items. Moreover, while stating the shelf life, it is imperative to count it from the day when the food reaches the end user and not from the manufactured date.
The reason is that, a lot of time is spent in shipping of goods and their distribution. The shelf life of dried foods such as grains, cereals is better than fruits, vegetables or meat. However, the condition of the food while buying also matters a lot.
Storage Factors that Influence the Shelf Life of Rice
As per USDA guidelines, every 5.6 degrees C drop in temperature, doubles the shelf life of dry food items like rice. Similarly, every 5.6 degree C increase in temperature halves the shelf life of rice.
Rice has about 10% moisture content in it. Ideally you should remove all the moisture from the rice, if you wish to store it for a long time. However, practically this is not possible, hence, make sure the content of moisture in rice is bare minimum.
Moisture promotes the growth of insect larvae, which renders the rice inedible, even though it is not 'bad' in real sense. Placing dry ice in the container containing rice helps to absorb the excess moisture in rice.
Atmosphere Inside the Container
Rice should be stored in the containers that are free of oxygen. Oxygen creates favorable thriving conditions for all sort of life forms. Even the airtight containers that are available in the market do not assure 100% oxygen free air. Oxygen absorber packets are a more reliable option as they completely prevent the entry of oxygen in the storage container.
The material of the storage container also determines the shelf life of rice. The storage containers that are suitable for storing rice for longer shelf life are #10 cans, sealable food storage buckets, sealable food quality metal or plastic drums.
Plastic sacks, paper sacks are definitely not a good option, if you wish to store rice for a long duration. Again, oxygen absorbing storage containers are undoubtedly the best option for storing rice.
How to Know if the Rice is Fit for Consumption
As evident from the above information, rice has quite a long shelf life. However, one must still know if the rice that has been stored for long is fit for human consumption. If you detect the presence of rice weevil, a small reddish brown bug, then you can be assured that the rice in question is not fit for human consumption.
Brown rice is easier to check for quality, as it emits rancid odor and changes appearance over time. Lastly, take cues from the color, odor and texture of the stored rice. If all seems fine, then you may go ahead with using it.
With proper storage techniques, you can enjoy your bag of rice for several years. Do not forget to repack the container after use, so that you do not introduce moisture or oxygen in it.