Can oranges go bad?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “Can oranges go bad?” and the storage and shelf life of oranges.

Can oranges go bad?

Yes, oranges do go bad since they are fresh fruit and a perishable food item. In fact, the deterioration process of the orange begins as soon as they are separated from the tree (10).  Proper storage can keep the citrus from spoiling quickly. 

Oranges may be stored at room temperature for about 10 days if in the pantry from the date of purchase. (8)Oranges should be kept refrigerated and eaten within two days after being sliced or peeled unless otherwise specified. What are the factors that affect the shelf life of Oranges?

The main factors that affect the shelf life of oranges are temperature and humidity;

  • Storage temperature: Is the most crucial environmental factor influencing the post-harvest lifespan of fresh fruits, primarily due to its significant impact on the rates of biological reactions, including respiration (1). 
  • Humidity: The oranges must be kept in a relatively dry environment. An environment too dry will lead to water loss, and an environment with too high humidity may lead to condensation and the enhanced growth of pathogens (2). 

What are the signs of spoiled Oranges?

There are a couple of indicators that point out bad oranges. You should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of the oranges.


If you spot a mold or other type of microbial growth on your oranges then it means that your oranges have gone bad and the best thing you can do is to get rid of them.

If you notice fuzzy or discolored patches, it indicates spoilage. Be careful as toxins produced by molds (i.e., mycotoxins) could be very dangerous for your health. (4)

Moreover, you should check for any significant changes in color, if you spot some discoloration or brown specks on your orange, that is an indication that your orange is spoiled.

In addition, a spoiled orange might have dehydrated and wrinkled outer skin, indicating that it has lost its moisture. 


An orange that feels soft and mushy, then it may be a sign that the orange is starting to spoil. It’s important to remember that the more an orange ripens, the softer it gets. 

If you start noticing changes in the texture and hardness of your orange, then it’s safe to assume that it won’t be long until the orange is bad.  


If you smell something foul, musty, or something that does not quite feel like the orange itself or if the tangy smell of the orange has weakened then it is the indication of a bad orange and you should get rid of it.

Spoiled oranges may emit a fermented, musty, or rotten odor. If your orange has mold in it, you should not smell it, since mold produces mycotoxins, and if you inhale orange’s mold, those mycotoxins enter your body and they can make you ill. (3)

How to extend the shelf life of Oranges?

You can extend the shelf life of oranges by refrigerating or freezing them. Here are the factors that you need to consider.

Do oranges need to be refrigerated?

Yes, oranges do need to be refrigerated to extend their shelf life. Oranges last for about 10 days at room temperature from the date of purchase if stored properly (8). Raw whole oranges last for about 10-21 days when they are properly refrigerated from the date of purchase (8). 

Upon peeling and cutting, the outer protective layer is stripped away, revealing the inner fresh cells that are abundant in water sugars, and organic acids. 

The release of nutrients through this process encourages the growth of microorganisms, while the damaged tissue serves as an entry point for establishing a microbial colony. (1). 

Cut/sliced oranges last for about 5 days when they are properly stored in the fridge at 40°F (1).

Once fruits are cut, sliced or chopped, they should be refrigerated in covered containers or frozen in plastic freezer containers. (9)

Can you freeze oranges?

Yes, you can freeze oranges. While most fruits can be frozen successfully, it’s important to note that the quality of the frozen product may vary depending on factors such as the type of fruit, its stage of maturity, and the chosen packaging method (5).

Generally, the flavor is well retained by freezing preservation. Texture may be kind of softer than that of fresh fruit. (11) 

They can last for about 10-12 months when kept in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer. (1)

To freeze oranges, you should first wash them in cold water and pat them dry using paper towels. Peel the oranges and try to remove as much pith as you can. Divide oranges into portions or what you can do is to separate all the slices of the oranges.

Put them in a freezer bag, remove the excess air from it and freeze it.

Frozen oranges can be defrosted by setting the bag on a plate and thawing in the refrigerator overnight, by running warm water over the bag, or by microwaving the oranges. They can also be cooked or blended into drinks directly from frozen.

Will spoiled oranges make you sick?

Yes, if you eat spoiled oranges you can get sick due to the presence of harmful microorganisms such as Salmonella, certain strains of Escherichia coli (e.g., E. coli O157:H7), Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter, Shigella and molds (3,4,6).

Some pathogenic fungal species found in spoiled oranges are: Rhizopus, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and Mucor. (6) 

Consuming spoiled fruit with bacteria or mold will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later (7). 

Food borne illness can sometimes be confused with other illnesses that have similar symptoms (7). The symptoms of food borne illness can include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain

Other FAQs about Oranges that you may be interested in.

What is the best time to eat oranges?

Can rabbits eat oranges?

Are seedless oranges GMOs?


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “can oranges go bad?” and the storage and shelf life of oranges.


  1. Rocha, A.M.C.N., Brochado, C.M., Kirby, R., Morais, A.M.M.B. Shelf-Life of chilled cut orange determined by sensory quality. Food Control, Vol. 6, No. 6, pp. 317-322. 
  2. Owoyemi, A., Porat, R., Lichter, A., Doron-Faigenboim, A., Jovani, O., Koenigstein, N., Salzer, Y. Evaluation of the Storage Performance of ‘Valencia’ Oranges and Generation of Shelf-Life Prediction Models. Horticulturae 2022, 8(7), 570.
  3. Drusch, S., Ragab, W. Mycotoxins in fruits, fruit juices, and dried fruits. J Food Prot; 66(8):1514-27.
  4. Balali, G.I., Yar, D.D., Afua Dela, V.G., Adjei-Kusi, P. Microbial Contamination, an Increasing Threat to the Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Today’s World“, International Journal of Microbiology, vol. 2020, Article ID 3029295, 13 pages, 2020.
  5. Garden-Robinson, J. Freezing Fruits. North Dakota State University.  
  6. Oviasogie, F.E., Ogofure, A.G., Beshiru, A., Ode, J.N., Omeje, F.I. Assessment of fungal pathogens associated with orange spoilage. Academic Journals, Vol. 9(29), pp. 1758-1763. 
  7. Food and Drug Administration. Selecting and Serving Produce Safely
  8. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Keeper.
  9. United States Department of Agriculture. Ask USDA.
  10. Morris, R.A. The U.S. Orange and Grapefruit Juice Markets: History, Developments, Growth and Change. University of Florida. 
  11. Andress, E.L., Harrison, J.A. Preserving Food: Freezing Fruit. University of Georgia. National Center for Home Food Preservation.

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