Can you cook spoiled food?

In this article, we answer the following question: Can you cook spoiled food? We teach you about the dangers of cooking and eating spoiled food, and how to detect spoiled eggs, fish, milk, and meat.

Can you cook spoiled food?

You should not cook spoiled food as it can have serious health consequences. In the US almost 67% of the consultations attended by telephone by specialists from the Toxicological Information Service were related to food, most of them after consuming a product in poor condition or expired.

As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), foodborne diseases cover a wide spectrum of ailments and constitute a growing public health problem. The most common clinical manifestation is the appearance of gastrointestinal symptoms, but these diseases can also give rise to neurological, gynecological, immunological, and other symptoms. 

Moreover, they do not only cause short-term symptoms, but this type of poisoning could lead to other more serious diseases in the future.

Most foodborne illnesses are caused by pathogenic microorganisms and can be prevented with simple gestures. The first one is to carry out proper food handling, following basic hygiene rules when handling food, from the moment we buy it until we consume it. This implies being able to detect when food is in bad condition, in order to discard it and avoid problems. But do you know how to detect spoiled food?

Detecting spoiled food

The key to avoiding food poisoning as much as possible is being able to detect food that is spoiled. A priori it seems as simple as guiding us by the expiration date of the food, as well as by the smell, taste, or appearance they give off. However, sometimes appearances can be deceiving and food that looks good can contain contamination by pathogenic microorganisms that lead to health problems.

 This is the case, for example, of mayonnaise or the foods that are prepared with it, especially now in summer. It may be the case that a salad made with mayonnaise looks good, but contains salmonella, a bacterium that causes salmonellosis, generally characterized by the sudden onset of fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and, sometimes, vomiting.

Therefore, extreme precautions are essential to ensure food safety.

How to detect spoiled eggs?

In the first place, we will look at the code that appears on the shell of the eggs and that indicates the date of preferential consumption since it will give us an approximation of the state of the eggs.

There are those who carry out the so-called “buoyancy test”, which consists of placing the whole egg in a glass of water. If it remains floating on the surface, it means that it may not be suitable for consumption and that its moment of freshness has passed. However, from the Egg Industry Center, they assure that it is not a reliable test and proposes other signs.

 For example, the consistency of white. “A fresh egg has two zones in the white; one more consistent and another liquid, which is well distinguished. When the egg is fresher, the dense white is firmer and gelatinous and loses its firmness as it loses freshness. When it is difficult to distinguish the two areas, the egg is less fresh ”, they say. 

The height of the yolk is another indicator of freshness. “A fresh egg has a hemispherical yolk on the dense white, and both have a height that stands out on the liquid white. When the egg loses freshness, the yolk membrane is also less firm and the yolk flattens, until it flattens completely, barely highlighting its profile over the white. In the end, the membrane is so weak that it is easy for it to break when the egg is broken ”, they add.

How to detect spoiled fish?

Fish is one of the most perishable foods, especially in this summertime, when temperatures are higher. In this case, we can use our senses to find out if it is suitable or not for consumption.

 First of all, the view. A fresh fish has a shiny appearance and red or deep pink gills. If we see the tone of the fish is dull, opaque, and that the gills are yellowish or greenish, it means that the fish is not fresh and its consumption could cause problems. The eyes are another good indicator. They must be bright and with a black pupil. Discard those with sunken eyes and a kind of milky layer on the eye.

The smell also helps. For fish to have a strong smell of the sea is normal, but when that smell reminds us of ammonia, rancid, or even becomes fetid, the fish will be spoiled.

And finally, touch. The meat of the fish must be firm. When it spoils it becomes soft and decomposes easily. It is time to discard its consumption.

How to detect spoiled milk?

In the case of milk, we will also be guided by the senses, starting with the smell. If it is damaged, we will notice an unpleasant smell, such as sour. The same happens with the flavor, which will be acidic, although, if we can, we should avoid tasting it.

 Before that, we will look at the color, which must be homogeneous and white. If we see yellowish or greenish tones, we will throw it away. The texture is another indicator of its freshness. It should have a completely runny texture. At the slightest hint of lumps or curds similar to those of yogurt, we must understand that it has been spoiled.

We can also use the microwave and heat a glass of milk. If it changes its texture and becomes pasty, it will be a sign that it is in bad condition.

How to detect spoiled meat?

To identify meat in bad condition, be it beef, pork, or poultry, the smell will be our main ally, since they are products that, when they have been spoiled, give off a strong and unpleasant smell.

 Texture can also help us, since, when they begin to deteriorate, their surface begins to become viscous and sticky, very different from the firm texture of fresh products.

 Lastly, the color. In the case of chicken, it is normal for it to be whitish or yellowish when it is a fresh product. If we see that it begins to turn gray, it will be a sign that it has been damaged, although probably, as we said, its unpleasant smell has given it away before. In the case of beef or pork, although it is normal for their color to change a bit due to oxidation in contact with air, we will be concerned when the tones go into the green range.


In this article, we answered the following question: Can you cook spoiled food? We taught you about the dangers of cooking and eating spoiled food, and how to detect spoiled eggs, fish, milk, and meat.

It is very important to know how to identify food in poor condition, but you also have to pay attention during the purchase, conservation, cooking, and proper cleaning when necessary, in order to avoid contamination by contact with surfaces, utensils, other foods, or even by our hands. Let’s eat safely!

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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