Can I eat 5 day old spaghetti?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “can i eat 5 day old spaghetti”, discuss the potential implications of eating spoiled spaghetti, and a few ways to reheat spaghetti. We will also discuss how to spot spoiled spaghetti.

Can I eat 5 day old spaghetti?

Yes, you can eat 5 day old spaghetti as long as it was properly cooked and stored. Cooked spaghetti can last for 3-5 days in the refrigerator (1). It should be stored in the refrigerator within 2 hours in a zip-lock or an airtight bag after cooling it at room temperature (2). 

If you have been storing the spaghetti for over 5 days, it is better to throw it out as it may carry potential risks.

The global production of pasta per year is more than 12 million tons on average, and 37.7% of these products belong to the countries of the European Union. The leader in the field of pasta production is Italy (3).

Shelf life of spaghetti

Cooked pasta products have a shelf-life of 1 to 6 days at refrigerated temperature with no other technology applied. One can slow down microbial growth by acidifying the water in which the pasta is boiled or by adding acid to the dough prior to extrusion (5). 

The storage stability depends strictly on the chemical composition and on the initial microbial load of the cooked pasta. A study showed that the addition of cucumber pomace into the formulation of wheat pasta, which significantly increased the phenolic compounds of the product, could reduce the initial mold load and consequently increase the shelf life of the cooked noodle (4). Here are a few examples of some common types of spaghetti with their shelf life.

  • Cooked wheat spaghetti: 3-5 days
  • Cooked wheat pasta added with cucumber pomace: 8 days
  • Cooked homemade fresh wheat spaghetti: 3-5 days
  • Cooked store bought wheat spaghetti: 3-5 days
  • Cooked gluten free spaghetti: 1-3 days

How to spot spoiled spaghetti?

You can easily spot spoiled spaghetti just by looking at its appearance, texture and its smell. If the spaghetti smells bad, it has definitely gone bad. If it looks gooey, soft, and the color looks different, it is time to throw it out. Mold tends to grow on foods, so if you see any mold growth on the spaghetti, do not eat it.

During storage of cooked noodles, population proliferation of lactic acid bacteria ferment carbohydrates to produce organic acids (such as lactic acid) and unpleasant tart flavor, decrease the pH value and lead to the spoilage of high-carbohydrate food (6).

How to reheat spaghetti?

There are many different ways to reheat spaghetti. You can pick whichever one is the most convenient for you. Here are some suggestions:

Microwave: You can simply put the spaghetti in a microwave friendly bowl, place it in the microwave, and heat it for 2-3 minutes. If there are some cold spots left, stir it and then place it back in the microwave.

In the pan: Place the spaghetti in a non-stick frying pan and heat it over the stove for a couple of minutes while stirring gently so that the heat is distributed evenly. Do not overheat it as it may get very dry.

A dash of oil: Alternatively, if your spaghetti has dried out, you can place it in a pan, add a little dash of oil or pasta sauce, and then cook it until everything just comes together.

In the oven: You can place the spaghetti in a bowl, cover it with aluminum foil ,and put it in the oven for 5 minutes at 200 degree Celsius. The aluminum foil retains the moisture and prevents the spaghetti from drying out.

Straight from the fridge: You can also enjoy your spaghetti cold and straight out the fridge if you do not like your food served piping hot.

Add more ingredients: If you are bored with your previous spaghetti recipe, add different ingredients for a better or different taste. Add some vegetables, meat, some more seasoning, or even some more pasta sauce. Cook these new ingredients first and then add your leftover spaghetti to it and cook until everything comes together. 

Potential risks of eating spoiled spaghetti

Any food left unconsumed or stored is a potential site of bacterial overgrowth. Similarly, spaghetti that has been stored for too long will have some bacterial overgrowth, and also mold. 

Some bacteria are temperature resistant, so they can even grow in cooler temperatures as in the refrigerator. The most common type of bacteria present in cooked rice or spaghetti is Bacillus Cereus. It is present in food that has been sitting at room temperature for hours. 

Other bacteria found in noodle and pasta products are Campylobacter, pathogenic Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella ssp. and Staphylococcus aureus (8).

Consuming contaminated foods leads to food poisoning. The most prominent symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain with or without fever (7). However if you have fever, that means there is an ongoing infection in your body (9).

Food poisoning caused by B. Cereus can range from mild to severe depending on your symptoms. If it is severe, you should consult your doctor immediately as profuse vomiting can lead to dehydration which if not corrected promptly, can lead to severe complications. 

Similarly, if you overlook some mold growth and eat the spaghetti anyway, it can lead to food poisoning. However, if you have a healthy immune system, your body can fight off small amounts of mold that you may have ingested (10).

The ingredients that you may have used to make the spaghetti sauce can also go bad. For example if you made white sauce or alfredo sauce, the milk in it would get spoiled quicker than if the sauce was made up of tomatoes. If you used dairy or chicken, there is an added risk of Salmonella overgrowth.

Other FAQs about Spaghetti that you may be interested in.

How do I make easy spaghetti?

Can you freeze spaghetti with meat sauce?

Can you freeze cooked spaghetti?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can I eat 5 day old spaghetti?”, discussed the potential implications of eating spoiled spaghetti, and a few ways to reheat spoiled spaghetti. Moreover we also discussed how to spot spoiled spaghetti.

Citations

  1. Product – Food Safety and Inspection Service – USDA.
  2. Leftover and Food Safety. US Department of Agriculture. 2020.
  3. Rozhkova, A. V. The implementation capabilities of the brand commercial network on the regional market of pasta. IOP Conf Ser Earth Environ Sci, 2019, 315.
  4. Saad, Ahmed M., et al. Impact of cucumber pomace fortification on the nutritional, sensorial and technological quality of soft wheat flour‐based noodles. Int J Food Sci Technol, 2021, 56, 3255-3268.
  5. Labuza, Ted P., and W. M. Breene. Applications of “active packaging” for improvement of shelf‐life and nutritional quality of fresh and extended shelf‐life foods 1. J food process preserv, 1989, 13, 1-69.
  6. Yang, Sha, et al. Evaluation of cooking performance, structural properties, storage stability and shelf life prediction of high-moisture wet starch noodles. Food Chem, 2021, 357, 129744.
  7. Food Poisoning Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022.
  8. Cerf, Olivier, et al. Ranking the microbiological safety of foods: A new tool and its application to composite products. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2013, 2, 124-138.  
  9. Hasday, Jeffrey D., Karen D. Fairchild, and Carl Shanholtz. The role of fever in the infected host. Microb infec, 2000, 2, 1891-1904.
  10. Shoham, Shmuel, and Stuart M. Levitz. The immune response to fungal infections. Brit j haematol, 2005, 129, 569-582.