Can you get sick from eating old oranges?

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

Can you get sick from eating old oranges?

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 (1,2,3).

Some pathogenic fungal species found in spoiled oranges are: Rhizopus, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria and Mucor. (3) 

Certain molds have the potential to trigger allergic reactions and respiratory issues in individuals. Additionally, under favorable conditions, specific molds can generate “mycotoxins”, toxic substances that have the potential to make you sick. (5)

Consuming spoiled fruit with bacteria or mold will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. (4). 

The symptoms of foodborne illness can include:

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

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

What are the signs of spoiled oranges?

There are a few signs that indicate that oranges have rot. 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. (2)

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.

Also, the loss of moisture in a spoiled orange or in one that has begun to spoil will be noticeable for the dehydration and wrinkling of the skin.


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 mold, those mycotoxins enter your body and can make you ill. (1)

How to prevent food poisoning from old oranges?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, here are some tips to help prevent food poisoning (6):

  • Always wash and scrub fresh produce before eating, even if you have to peel it later. When you cut fruits or vegetables, germs on the peel or skin can get inside. (6)
  • Before preparing or eating, cut away any damaged or bruised areas. If the peel or skin is damaged or bruised, germs can get into fruits and vegetables more easily. (6)
  • Dry the fresh produce with a clean paper towel. (6)
  • You should refrigerate fruits and vegetables within 2 hours after your cut or peel them. (6)

What is the shelf life of oranges?

Raw whole oranges last for about 10-21 days when they are properly refrigerated from the date of purchase. At room temperature, oranges last for about 10 days from the date of purchase. (7)

When peeled and cut the outside protective layer is removed, exposing the fresh cells, rich in water, sugars, and organic acids. The leakage of nutrients will promote microbial growth and the damaged tissue also provides a portal of entry for establishing a microbial colony  (8). 

Cut or sliced oranges can last for up to 5 days if they are stored in refrigeration (8).

Other FAQs about Oranges which you may be interested in.

How long does orange juice last?

Can out-of-date orange juice make you sick?

Can squirrels eat oranges?

What is the proper way to store oranges?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, oranges, as other perishable fresh fruits and vegetables, should be stored in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. 

Fresh raw whole oranges can be stored in a cool, dry, and dark corner of the pantry but if you want to prolong their shelf life, then it is recommended to store them properly in the fridge

To ensure food safety, it is essential to maintain a clear separation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as the kitchen utensil used for handling these products, from fruits and vegetables that are intended to be consumed raw (4).

If you have peeled, cut, or sliced oranges, you have to refrigerate them. The best is to place them in a freezer bag or airtight container. If using a resealable plastic bag, squeeze out the air before sealing it. 

To ensure the safety of produce, you can contribute by making informed purchasing choices: 

  • Opt for produce that shows no signs of bruising or damage.
  • When purchasing pre-cut, bagged, or packaged produce, select only items that are refrigerated or kept surrounded by ice.
  • Remember to pack fresh fruits separately from raw meat, poultry, and seafood when bringing them home from the market (4). 


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


  1. Drusch, S., Ragab, W. Mycotoxins in fruits, fruit juices, and dried fruits. J Food Prot; 66(8):1514-27.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Food and Drug Administration. Selecting and Serving Produce Safely.
  5. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Molds on Food: Are they dangerous?.
  6.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foods that can cause food poisoning
  7. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Keeper.
  8. 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. 

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