How to know if papaya is spoiled

In this article, we will discuss how to know if papaya is spoiled. We will also discuss the ways to store papaya and what happens if you eat spoiled papaya. 

How to know if papaya is spoiled?

To know if papaya is spoiled you should see if there are dark spots, mushy skin and molds on the skin. It also will smell fermented and sour which will further make you sure that it is not edible anymore, but when in doubt, it is best to cut the papaya open and inspect its flesh and smell (1, 2).

What is the shelf life of papaya?

The shelf life of a whole, green, unripe papaya is about 1-2 weeks staying at room temperature, but depending on papayas’ stage of development and temperature of storage this may vary. 

The papaya should be eaten within two to three days when it ripens and turns yellow. A ripe papaya may be kept in the fridge for an extra 2–3. In general, temperature within 10 °C to 13 °C is the best to extend papayas’ shelf life (1, 3).

Papayas that have been sliced lose a lot of their shelf life after being cut. If you have a sliced papaya, you should wrap it in plastic wrap or keep it in an airtight container. In the refrigerator, it can survive for approximately two to three days (4).

What affects the shelf life of papaya?

One of the factors that can affect the shelf life of papaya is the storage temperature. Papayas should be stored at temperatures between 10 and 13 °C, which is the optimal temperature range for papaya storage. 

Exposure to temperatures below 7 °C can cause chilling injury, which can lead to the development of brown spots and a loss of flavor and texture (3).

The storage conditions can also affect the shelf life of papaya. Papayas should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat. 

Papayas should not be stored near other fruits or vegetables that produce ethylene gas, as exposure to this gas can cause the fruit to ripen and spoil more quickly (4, 2).

How to tell if papaya has gone bad?

There are a number of visual, olfactory, and tactile indicators you may look for to tell whether a papaya has gone bad or not. Below, we have listed some signs that will help you clearly indicate which papaya has gone bad (5, 6, 3, 2).

Dark spots on the skin

There are a few dark spots on papaya’s skin which is fine and does not mean that it is spoiled but if your papaya is covered with such black spots then it definitely means that it has gone bad. 

Dark spots on papayas are typically caused by a fungal disease known as black spot, which is caused by the fungus Asperisporium caricae. The spots on the fruit are usually small, dark, and sunken, and can cause the fruit to become unappetizing and unsuitable for consumption

The texture

A ripe papaya should have a firm texture and give slightly when squeezed. It is spoiled if it is overly soft, like it is crumbling apart when you touch it. 

As a papaya ripens, its texture softens due to the breakdown of the fruit’s cell walls and the conversion of starches to sugars. The production of ethylene gas during this process triggers the fruit to soften.

Mold growth

A lot of times, cut papayas have molds inside them which is because of the moisture content from air. It is best not to eat that papaya at all as it can lead to food poisoning. 

There are many fungi associated with ripe fruit rots, and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides is considered the most common causing anthracnose in papaya and other fruits.

The smell 

Papayas usually have a sweet and fruity smell which is unlike any other fruit but once they start going bad, papayas start to smell like a fermented fruit. This foul smell can be observed if you uncover the food or take it out of the fridge. 

The bitter in taste 

Spoiled papayas have a bitter taste which makes it difficult to even swallow the fruit. The taste makes the fruit very stale and bad to taste.

How to store papaya?

To store the whole papaya, you must consider the papayas’ stage of development.

  • For mature-green to one-fourth yellow papayas 13 °C is the recommended storage temperature for up to 21 days.
  • For partially ripe (one-fourth to one-half yellow) papayas is 10 °C. 
  • For ripe (more than one-half yellow) papayas 7 °C.

To keep papayas fresh, store them in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic if they are cut or sliced. Use the papaya within two to three days after placing the container or wrapped fruit in the refrigerator (3, 4).

Can you freeze papaya?

Yes, you can freeze papaya. However, if you want to freeze papaya, keep in mind that freezing it can cause the fruit to become soft, develop brown spots, and lose its flavor and nutritional value. In severe cases, the fruit may become completely unusable. 

Freezing injury can also affect the texture of papaya. When papaya is exposed to freezing temperatures, the water inside the fruit can form ice crystals, which can damage the cells and cause the fruit to become mushy and lose its firmness (3).

To prevent freezing injury in papaya, it is important to store the fruit at temperatures between 10 and 13 °C, which is the optimal temperature range for papaya storage (3).

What happens if you eat  spoiled papaya? 

Eating spoiled papaya can cause food poisoning, which can lead to symptoms such as: 

  • nausea 
  • vomiting 
  • stomach cramps 
  • diarrhea 

The Bacillus species is a predominant bacterial endophyte across papaya varieties, the presence of these bacteria can cause food poisoning in many fruits, including papayas. Due to its ability to produce enterotoxins and emetic toxins, consuming spoiled papaya can make you sick if ingested (7). 

Additionally, spoiled papayas can contain fungi such as Aspergillus niger and Alternaria spp. which can produce a toxin potentially harmful to humans. A good example is Aflatoxin which has been associated with cancer of the liver, aflatoxicosis and acute hepatitis (8).

Other FAQs about Papaya that you may be interested in.

How to store cut papaya?

Can you eat green papaya?


In this article, we discussed how to know if papayas are spoiled. We also discussed the ways to store papaya and what happens if you eat spoiled papaya. 


(1). Penteado, Ana Lúcia. “Microbiological safety aspects of mangoes (Mangifera indica) and papayas (Carica papaya): a mini-review“. Vigil. sanit. debate, 2017, 5, 127-140.

(2). Zhao, Ping, et al. “Microbial Spoilage of Fruits: A Review on Causes and Prevention Methods“. Food Reviews International, 2022, 38. 

(3). Caron, Vanessa, et al. “Influence of Low Temperature Storage on the Postharvest Quality of Papaya Fruit (Carica papaya L.)“. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc., 2013, 126, 200–202.

(4). Qadri, Ovais Shafiq, et al. “Fresh cut fruits and vegetables: Critical factors influencing microbiology and novel approaches to prevent microbial risks—A review“. Cogent Food & Agriculture, 2015, 1. 

(5). Shantamma, S. G. “Status of Black Spot of Papaya (Asperisporium caricae): A New Emerging Disease“. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences“. 2018, 7 . 

(6). Ferreira, EMS, et al. “A safe method to control the anthracnose in papaya”. Rev Bras Frutic [Internet]. 2018;40(3):e–683. 

(7). From C, Pukall R. “Toxin-producing ability among Bacillus spp. outside the Bacillus cereus group“. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005;71(3):1178-1183. 

(8). JAHUN, BM, et al. “Fungi Causing Post-Harvest Spoilage Carica papaya Linn Fruits of Two Selected Markets in Kano State, Nigeria”. J. Appl. Sci. Environ. Manage. 2021, 25, 727-731.

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