Can you get sick from eating old vegetables?

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

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

Can you get sick from eating old vegetables?

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

  1. Diarrhea is an indication of the body that a certain obnoxious agent has entered it. So consumption of spoiled vegetables can cause diarrhea. Therefore you should drink plenty of water to compensate for the water loss that the body experiences owing to diarrhea.
  1. Food poisoning after consuming bacteria-laden spoiled vegetables is characterized by abdominal pain. Abdominal pain and cramps may likewise take place in the wake of devouring old vegetables. 
  1. If you have consumed vegetables that have gone bad then you can experience nausea and vomiting which is the natural defense of the body to get rid of the unwanted harmful substance that has entered the body.
  1. Consuming spoiled vegetables will also raise your body temperature and you can experience fever which is the natural defense mechanism of your body and is the indicator that something is off with your body.

Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can result in electrolyte imbalance in the body as well as it can lead to severe dehydration, dizziness, flushed skin, and weakness. It is advised to drink plenty of water to save the body from dehydration as severe dehydration can even lead to shock.

Vegetables especially leafy green vegetables like spinach, cabbage, celery, etc. can become contaminated with E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria that can result in food poisoning.

Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables can develop dark spots caused by pathogens, if the spots are small, you can just cut them off and use the rest of the particular vegetable but in case the spots are quite large, it is better to discard the vegetable.

It is worth mentioning that in case you have just eaten a bit of cooked vegetable that was discolored or you think that it was spoiled (after eating it) then in most scenarios, it won’t have a significant effect but if you have devoured a large amount of bacteria-laden vegetables (especially 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 vegetables have gone bad. You should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of vegetables to give a final verdict about whether or not vegetables have gone bad.

Appearance

If you spot a mold or some organic growth on your raw or cooked vegetable, then the best thing you can do in this scenario is to get rid of the vegetable.

Moreover, discoloration of the vegetables is also an indication that they are past their prime time.

Texture

Fresh raw vegetables are firm to touch. So if you feel something slimy or if the vegetables like butternut squash, zucchini, etc. have mushy, or soft spots then it is an indication of bad vegetables. 

Moreover, if you notice that the vegetables are shriveled or wrinkled then it means that they are past their prime time.

In the case of the green vegetables, if you notice that they are all mushy, limp, or soggy then it means that they have gone bad.

Smell

If you notice an odd smell or something that quite does not feel like the vegetable itself then it is better to discard such vegetable.

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

Tips to properly handle and store vegetables

  1. First thing first, you should never buy a vegetable that is bruised or damaged.
  1. You should wash the vegetables thoroughly before eating, cutting, or cooking unless the package says otherwise.
  1. In the case of raw fresh vegetables like green vegetables, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. you can store them in the vegetable drawer of the fridge while vegetables like whole raw potatoes, onions, garlic, etc should be stored in a cool, dry, well ventilated, and dark corner of pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.
  1. You should store vegetables away from ethylene emitting fruits like bananas, apples, tomatoes, etc. 
  1. In the case of cooked vegetables, always let them cool before storing them in the air-tight container or plastic zipper bag. If you store hot cooked vegetables in the plastic zipper bag or container moisture will build up inside it that provides a suitable environment for bacteria to grow.
  1. If you want to store vegetables for a long time, you can even freeze them. But care should be taken in this regard as not all vegetables are suitable for freezing (like frozen lettuce will lose its crunch on thawing).

You can read how to make vegetable soup here.

Conclusion

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

Citations

https://askinglot.com/can-you-get-sick-from-eating-old-cabbage
https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foods-linked-illness.html
https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-healthy-fruits-veggies.html
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-food-poisoning
https://www.livestrong.com/article/555289-can-old-vegetables-make-you-sick/

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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.

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