Does orange juice need to be refrigerated?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Does orange juice need to be refrigerated?” We will also discuss in detail, the shelf life and storage methods of orange juice.

Does orange juice need to be refrigerated?

Yes, orange juice must be stored in the refrigerator if it is freshly squeezed, but not if it is shelf-stable unopened orange juice. 

Homemade fresh squeezed orange juice must be kept in refrigeration if not consumed immediately. Store-bought pasteurized orange juice only needs to be refrigerated after it is opened. 

It should be kept in a cool, dark place away from heat sources. If it comes in a clear bottle, keep it away from light. Once you have opened the container, keep it tightly sealed and refrigerated.

What factors affect orange juice’s shelf life?

The factors that can influence the shelf life of orange juice are the processing, packaging, and storage conditions, such as light or air exposure, temperature, acidity, preservatives, etc.

Throughout the processing, packaging, and storage stages, orange juice is susceptible to various deteriorative reactions that can lead to significant quality deterioration. 

In orange juice, five significant deteriorative reactions can occur. 

These include microbiological spoilage, non-enzymatic browning, cloud loss, oxidation leading to the degradation or loss of flavor components and nutrients, and the absorption of flavor compounds by the packaging material. (1)

During storage, orange juice may suffer serious problems due to contamination by microorganisms, mainly lactic acid bacteria, molds, and yeasts. 

One important aspect to the consumer is the “cloud” in orange juice, which is related to its flavor, color, and mouthfeel. Due to deterioration, an enzyme breaks the cloud components structures and this leads to unacceptability from the consumer. 

The assessment of the quality and shelf life of orange juice frequently relies on the retention of vitamin C during storage. However, due to the nature of vitamin C, it is prone to oxidation and loss over the storage period of the juice. 

The rate of degradation is significantly influenced by the storage conditions in which the juice is kept. (1)

Factors affecting vitamin C loss in packed orange juice include temperature of storage and the exposition to oxygen. 

What is the shelf life of orange juice?

Fresh homemade orange juice has a high nutritional value, but it only lasts for 5-8 days in refrigeration. (2)

In homemade orange juice, the absence of pasteurization and preservatives creates an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria and yeast. 

These microorganisms, combined with enzyme activity, can lead to the development of off-flavors and oxidation in the juice. (1)

Orange juice that has been pasteurized and it’s shelf-stable, while it’s unopened can last for about a year or more. It can last between 5-7 days in refrigeration after opening as they contain some preservatives and acidity to enhance its shelf life. (3)

During storage, orange juice may suffer serious problems due to contamination by microorganisms, mainly molds, and yeasts. (1)

Yeasts and molds can ferment the sugars in the juice and convert them into alcohol-producing carbon dioxide which causes protrusion in cartons or containers where orange juice is kept. 

All varieties of orange juice go bad – darken in color and develop a bitter sour taste.

How to properly store orange juice?

Here are some recommendations to properly store orange juice: 

  1. An unopened container or shelf-stable orange juice should be stored in a cool and dark place away from heat sources like sunlight or a stovetop.
  2. After opening the container, it must be kept in the fridge with a tight seal.
  3. Orange juice that is sold refrigerated should be kept in the fridge at all times and tightly sealed.
  4. Homemade orange juice squeezed out of fresh oranges must be placed in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness.

What are the risks of not refrigerating orange juice?

According to the USDA, leaving perishable foods, such as orange juice, sitting at room temperature for two hours or more will allow bacteria to grow. (6)

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food.. (5)

So, drinking spoiled orange juice can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body ache. (5)

Other FAQs about Oranges which you may be interested in.

How to know if the oranges are spoiled?

Are blood oranges sweet?

How to tell if orange juice is bad?

Some signs that orange juice is spoiled are: 

  • Smell: If it smells pungent sour or rancid, it is probably spoiled. If it smells like alcohol or vinegar it indicates that the juice has been fermented. 
  • Flavor: If it tastes bitter, like alcohol, or with a fizzy texture, it is not safe to drink anymore. The growth of lactic acid bacteria produces flavors similar to buttermilk and metabolic products such as acids, ethanol, and carbon dioxide. (4) 
  • Mold Growth: If white or green mold appears on the top of the juice, you may throw it right away.
  • Package: If a container in which orange juice is placed seems puffed or bulged it is also a sign of microbial spoilage of the product.
  • Color: A change in color, if it is darkened or pale, the juice is spoiled.


In this brief article, we answered the question, “Does orange juice need to be refrigerated?” We also discussed in detail, the shelf life and storage methods of orange juice.


  1. López-Gómez, A., Ros-Chumillas, M., Belisario-Sánchez, Y.Y. Packaging and the Shelf Life of Orange Juice. Food Packaging and Shelf Life: A practical guide.
  2. Fellers, P.J., Shelf life and quality of freshly squeezed, unpasteurized, polyethylene-bottled citrus juice. Journal of food science: an official publication of the Institute of Food Technologists 1988 v. 53 no. 6 pp.
  3. United States Department of Agriculture. Shelf-Stable Food Safety
  4. National Library of Medicine. National Center of Biotechnology Information. Fruit Juice Spoilage by Alicyclobacillus: Detection and Control Methods – A Comprehensive Review. Foods. 2022 Mar; 11(5): 747. 
  5. Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know about juice safety. 
  6. United States Department of Agriculture. Leftovers and Food Safety