Can orange juice go bad in the fridge?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can orange juice go bad in the fridge?”, as well as the signs of spoiled orange juice. 

Can orange juice go bad in the fridge?

Yes, orange juice can go bad in the fridge. It has a shelf life. Because orange juice oxidizes, bacteria penetrate the juice. This causes a huge shift and a sour flavor. (1,2)

Even unopened orange juice goes rotten. The orange sugars eventually convert into alcohol and CO2. (2)

How Long Is Orange Juice Good For?

Fresh homemade orange juice has a high nutritional value, but it only lasts for 5-8 days in refrigeration. (4)

In homemade orange juice, the absence of pasteurization and preservatives creates an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria and yeast. 

These microorganisms, combined with enzyme activity, can lead to the development of off-flavors and oxidation in the juice. (1)

Orange juice that has been pasteurized, while it is unopened can last for about a year or even more. It can last between 5-7 days at refrigeration temperature after opening as they contain some amount of preservatives and acidity to enhance its shelf life. (5)

During storage, orange juice may suffer serious problems due to contamination by microorganisms, mainly molds and yeasts. (1)

Yeasts and molds can ferment the sugars in the juice and convert them into alcohol producing carbon dioxide which causes protrusion in cartons or containers where orange juice is kept. 

All varieties of orange juice go bad – darken in color and develop a bitter sour taste.

What factors affect the shelf life of orange juice?

The factors that can influence the shelf life of orange juice are the processing, packaging and storage conditions, such as light or air exposure, temperature, acidity, preservatives, etc.

Throughout the processing, packaging, and storage stages, orange juice is susceptible to various deteriorative reactions that can lead to significant quality deterioration. 

In orange juice, five significant deteriorative reactions can occur. 

These include microbiological spoilage, non-enzymatic browning, cloud loss, oxidation leading to the degradation or loss of flavor components and nutrients, and the absorption of flavor compounds by the packaging material. (1)

During storage, orange juice may suffer serious problems due to contamination by microorganisms, mainly lactic acid bacteria, molds and yeasts. 

One important aspect to the consumer is the “cloud” in orange juice, which is related to its flavor, color, and mouthfeel. Due to deterioration, an enzyme breaks the cloud components structures and this leads to unacceptability from the consumer.

The assessment of quality and shelf life of orange juice frequently relies on the retention of vitamin C during storage. However, due to the nature of vitamin C, it is prone to oxidation and loss over the storage period of the juice. 

The rate of degradation is significantly influenced by the storage conditions in which the juice is kept. (1)

Factors affecting vitamin C loss in packed orange juice include temperature of storage and the exposition to oxygen. 

How to properly store Orange Juice?

Here are some recommendations to properly store orange juice: 

  1. An unopened container or unrefrigerated orange juice should be stored in a cool and dark place away from heat sources like sunlight or a stovetop.
  2. After opening the container, it must be kept in the fridge with a tight seal.
  3. Orange juice that is sold refrigerated should be kept in the fridge at all times and tightly sealed.
  4. Homemade orange juice squeezed out of fresh oranges must be placed in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness, and shouldn’t be left sitting out for more than 2 hours. (4) 

How To Spot Spoiled Orange Juice?

Some signs that orange juice is spoiled are: 

  • Smell: If it smells pungent sour or rancid, it is probably spoiled. If it smells like alcohol or vinegar it indicates that the juice has been fermented. 
  • Flavor: If it tastes bitter, like alcohol, or with a fizzy texture, it is not safe to drink anymore. The growth of lactic acid bacteria produces flavors similar to buttermilk and metabolic products such as acids, ethanol, and carbon dioxide. (2) 
  • Mold Growth: If white or green mold appears on the top of the juice, you may throw it right away.
  • Package: If a container in which orange juice is placed seems puffed or bulged it is also a sign of microbial spoilage of the product.
  • Color: A change in color, if it is darkened or pale, the juice is spoiled.

How to extend the shelf life of Orange Juice?

An appropriate storage temperature is the main factor for extending the shelf life of orange juice. The shelf life of natural, fresh orange juices stored at room temperature, refrigeration, and freezing temperatures are totally different.

Does orange juice need to be refrigerated?

Yes, freshly squeezed orange juice should be consumed as soon as possible for its nutritional value and fresh taste, otherwise, it should be refrigerated and shouldn’t be left sitting out for more than 2 hours.(4) 

The commercial-packed orange juice that has been pasteurized and contains preservatives to prolong its shelf life, can be stored at room temperature until open. Once the pack has been opened, it should be stored at refrigeration temperature and it may last long for a few days.

Can you freeze orange juice?

Yes, you can freeze orange juice and its shelf life can be further extended. Freezing has its own pros and cons. It might deteriorate the quality of juice, but that can be restored almost fully by proper mixing/shaking so the pulp and water unite. 

Frozen storage of fresh squeezed orange juice results in a longer shelf life than for refrigerated. However, once thawed, the orange juice has a refrigerated shelf life of 7 – 10 days. (1)

Freezing is recommended for long term storage as frozen orange juice may last up to several months if stored properly. 

The best way to defrost the frozen juice is by refrigerating it, but if you thaw it by microwaving or putting in lukewarm water try to consume it immediately.

What happens if you consume spoiled orange juice?

According to the FDA, drinking spoiled orange juice can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and body ache.

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. (3)


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can orange juice go bad in the fridge?”, as well as the signs of spoiled orange juice.


  1. López-Gómez, A., Ros-Chumillas, M., Belisario-Sánchez, Y.Y. Packaging and the Shelf Life of Orange Juice. Food Packaging and Shelf Life: A practical guide.
  2. National Library of Medicine. National Center of Biotechnology Information. Fruit Juice Spoilage by Alicyclobacillus: Detection and Control Methods – A Comprehensive Review. Foods. 2022 Mar; 11(5): 747. 
  3. Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know about juice safety. 
  4. Fellers, P.J., Shelf life and quality of freshly squeezed, unpasteurized, polyethylene-bottled citrus juice. Journal of food science: an official publication of the Institute of Food Technologists 1988 v. 53 no. 6 pp.
  5. United States Department of Agriculture. Shelf-Stable Food Safety

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