Can you get sick from eating old onions?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you get sick from eating old onions” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of eating old onions. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store onions.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Can you get sick from eating old onions?

If you eat a large number of old onions that have toxic bacteria on them, you can even get food poisoning that is characterized by diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. So it is better to discard such bacteria-laden onions to save yourself from such a situation. 

It is worth mentioning that in case you have just eaten a couple of onion rings that were discolored or you think that they were spoiled (after eating them) then in most scenarios, it won’t have a significant effect but if you have devoured a large amount of bacteria-laden onions (raw) then in severe cases it can result in food poisoning.

When it comes to fresh vegetables, you should do a sensory evaluation to reach a final verdict on whether or not they are still suitable to consume.

There are a couple of indications that point out that your onions have gone bad. You should consider the appearance, texture, smell, and taste of onions to give a final verdict about whether or not onions have gone bad.

Appearance 

If you spot a mold or some organic growth on your raw onion then it is an indication that your onion has gone bad and it is best to get rid of it.

It is worth mentioning that if the onion has a visible mold on it, you should avoid smelling it as molds can produce mycotoxins and if you smell such onion, mycotoxins can enter your body via inhalation where they can disrupt your natural microflora and can weaken your immune system.

If you spot some dark-colored spots on your onions, then you should refrain from consuming such onions as these spots are the indicators of mold and rot.

Moreover, if you see some green sprout beginning to grow on the onion, it shows that your onions will go bad in some time.

Texture

The healthy onions are rather firm so if you feel something soft, squishy, or slimy while touching your onions then it is an indication that your onions have gone bad.

Moreover in the case of cut onions that were stored improperly, if you notice that the surface of the onion is all wrinkled or if it has dried then it is better to discard such onion.

Moreover, even when you are out buying your onions, you should refrain from buying onions that are wrinkled or have holes in them.

Smell 

The healthy onion itself has some strong and sharp smell but if you smell something off while taking a sniff test of your onion then it is an indication of bad onions.

Taste

So if your onions have passed all the other sensory evaluations, then you can go ahead and take a small bite of it. Now if you feel something musty or even bitter while tasting the onion then it is better to discard such onion.

So you should consider the indicators mentioned above before eating onions. It is worth mentioning that when in doubt it is better to get rid of the onions as it is better to be safe than sorry.

Whole unpeeled raw onions last for about 2-3 months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry away from direct sunlight and heat. 

As soon as you peel the onions, their surface becomes exposed and their shelf life also decreases as now they are not only more prone to microbial growth but they can also lose their moisture content pretty easily and can become wrinkled and dry.

Once you cut or chop the onions, it further decreases the shelf life of the onions as they have now more exposed and larger surface area that provides more room for bacteria and other microbes to grow.

Cut or chopped onions last for about 7 to 10 days when they are stored properly in the fridge. But an important point to keep in mind is to always store the cut onions in an air-tight bag or container as the strong-smelling onion can induce its smell to other food items present in the fridge.

Cut or chopped onion lasts for less than a day if it is kept at room temperature. Peeled and chopped onions will not only lose their moisture over time but can also become the favorite spot for many bacteria and other microbes to grow upon.

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of onions and within this time you can enjoy the best quality of the onions.

Other FAQs about Onions which you may be interested in.

Can you use red onion in soup?

How much chopped onion equals one onion?

Tips to properly store onions

  1. You should store your unpeeled onions in a well-ventilated, cool, dark, and dry place away from direct sunlight. 
  1. You should not store your whole unpeeled onions in the fridge as they can readily absorb moisture from the fridge that can negatively affect their texture.
  1. Do not peel your onion beforehand, no matter how lucrative it seems to have the pre-peeled pre-diced onions every time you cook, we do not recommend you to do that as peeling and cutting significantly increases the rate of deterioration of the onions.
  1. If you have already cut or diced onions, you should store them in air-tight bags or containers in the refrigerator or they can even be stored in the freezer in plastic freezer bags or air-tight containers for quite a long time.

You can read how to make onion rings here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you get sick from eating old onions” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of eating old onions. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store onions.

Citations

https://foodsguy.com/do-onions-go-bad/#:~:text=Possibly.,poisoning%20than%20any%20other%20food.
https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/are-cut-raw-onions-fridge-poisonous
https://www.allrecipes.com/article/how-to-store-onions/
https://www.eatthis.com/how-to-store-onions/

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.