How to know if strawberries are bad? (3 Ways)

In this article, we will answer the question “How to know if strawberries are bad?”. Moreover, we will also discuss the health consequences of eating spoiled strawberries and how to properly store strawberries to prevent their spoilage.

How to know if strawberries are bad?

There are several signs to look out for if you want to determine if your strawberries are bad. For example, you should always check their texture, color, odor, taste and appearance. 

It is important to know that the shelf life can be affected by various factors such as their initial quality, ripeness, storage temperature, handling, packing and moisture (1).

 Here, you can find the three most common indicators of strawberry spoilage:

  1. Mold: Check the surface of the strawberries for any fuzzy, green, or white patches. Mold growth is a clear indication that the strawberries are spoiled.

Be careful!The molds on your strawberries can produce dangerous mycotoxins that can make you very sick (2).

  1. Discoloration: Look for any dark or brown spots on the strawberries. Significant color changes, especially if they are widespread, suggest that the berries have started to decay and are no longer fresh.
  1. Foul odor: Fresh strawberries have a sweet and pleasant aroma. However, if you notice a sour, fermented, or generally unpleasant smell coming from the strawberries, it indicates spoilage.

By paying attention to these three signs, you can easily determine whether strawberries are spoiled and should be discarded.

Can you get sick from eating spoiled strawberries?

Yes, consuming spoiled strawberries can make you very sick due to the presence of harmful microorganisms and their toxins (2-4).

If your strawberries are contaminated with Listeria, Salmonella, or Escherichia coli you might experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and in severe cases, dehydration or other complications (3-5).

Moreover the presence of molds and their toxins can lead to different allergic reactions in some individuals. This can manifest as itching, hives, swelling, or respiratory symptoms such as coughing or wheezing (6).

If you have eaten spoiled strawberries and experience severe or prolonged symptoms, it is recommended to seek medical assistance immediately. 

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten spoiled strawberries?

If you have consumed spoiled strawberries and suspect that they may have caused adverse effects, you should follow the next recommendations:

  1. Monitor symptoms: Pay close attention to any symptoms that may arise after consuming spoiled strawberries. 

Common symptoms include gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps), allergic reactions (itching, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing), or signs of food poisoning (fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue) (5-6).

  1. Seek medical assistance: If you experience severe symptoms or if your condition worsens, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. 

Contact your healthcare provider or visit an emergency room, especially if you have difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, high fever, or any other concerning symptoms (5).

  1. Stay hydrated: In case of diarrhea or vomiting, it is crucial to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Water, clear broths, or electrolyte-replenishing drinks can help prevent dehydration.
  1. Rest and take care of your body: Allow your body to recover by getting adequate rest. Avoid consuming any more spoiled strawberries or potentially contaminated food until you feel better. Stick to light, easily digestible foods if you have any appetite.
  1. Dispose of remaining strawberries: If there are any spoiled strawberries left, discard them to prevent further consumption or contamination.

Remember, that it is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety. So, if you are not sure about the quality and safety of your strawberries, just throw them out!

How to properly handle strawberries to avoid spoilage?

To properly handle strawberries and avoid their spoilage, you should consider the following tips:

  • Storage duration: If you plan to consume the strawberries within a few hours, it is safe to leave them on the countertop. However, if you intend to use them the next day or store them for a longer period, refrigeration is recommended.
  • Refrigeration method: Place the strawberries in an air-tight container, preferably in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This helps maintain their freshness and prevents them from absorbing odors from other foods.
  • Remove moldy strawberries: Before storing the strawberries, inspect them and remove any moldy or spoiled berries. Repeat this practice daily to prevent the spread of bacteria or mold to the rest of the strawberries.
  • Avoid pre-washing: If the strawberries will not be consumed on the same day, i t is best not to wash them beforehand. Moisture can promote mold growth and reduce their shelf life. 

Leave the strawberries as they are, without removing the stems, until you are ready to use them.

  • Prevent crushing: Handle strawberries with care to avoid bruising or damaging them. They are delicate and prone to spoilage. Avoid placing heavy items or other fruits and vegetables on top of the bag or container where the strawberries are stored to prevent crushing and deterioration.

By following these recommendations, you can extend the shelf life of your strawberries and maintain their quality for a longer period.

What is the shelf-life of strawberries? 

Strawberries will only last a day at room temperature. Refrigerating the strawberries will extend their shelf-life to about 7 days (1). Strawberries can go bad before 7 days if they are not stored correctly. 

They should be inspected for moldy strawberries daily. Moreover, the humidity as well as how congested the refrigerator is also could affect the shelf-life of your strawberries. For prolonged storage, freezing is the way to go.

How to freeze strawberries?

You can follow the next three steps to properly freeze your strawberries:

  1. Prepare the fruit: Wash the strawberries and pat dry using a paper towel. Remove the stems and slice or cut them or leave them whole If you want.
  1. Flash freeze: Spread the strawberries evenly on a baking tray in a single layer. Do not stack them on top of another. The strawberries should not touch each other. Let them freeze overnight.
  1. Pack and freeze: Transfer the frozen strawberries into a freezer bag or air-tight container and put them in the fridge. Squeeze out the air from the freezer bag, label it and chuck it into the freezer.
  1. Conclusion:

In this article, we answered the question “How to know if strawberries are bad?”. In addition, we discussed the health consequences of eating spoiled strawberries and how to store strawberries to prevent their spoilage.


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2. Juan C, Oueslati S, Mañes J. Evaluation of Alternaria mycotoxins in strawberries: quantification and storage condition. [Internet]. 2016 May 3 [cited 2023 Jun 14];33(5):861–8. Available from:  

3. Yin HB, Chen CH, Colorado-Suarez S, Patel J. Biocontrol of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica on Fresh Strawberries with Lactic Acid Bacteria During Refrigerated Storage. [Internet]. 2022 May 4 [cited 2023 Jun 14];19(5):324–31. Available from:  

4. Yu K, Newman MC, Archbold DD, Hamilton-Kemp TR. Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Strawberry Fruit and Reduction of the Pathogen Population by Chemical Agents. J Food Prot [Internet]. 2001 Sep 1 [cited 2023 Jun 14];64(9):1334–40. Available from:  

5. Milaciu M V, Ciumărnean L, Orășan OH, Para I, Alexescu T, Negrean V. Semiology of food poisoning. Int J Bioflux Soc [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 May 10];8(2):108–13. Available from:  

6. Patel P, Komorowski AS, Mack DP. An allergist’s approach to food poisoning. Ann Allergy, Asthma Immunol [Internet]. 2023 Apr 1 [cited 2023 May 5];130(4):444–51. Available from:  

7. Beumer RR, Kusumaningrum H. Kitchen hygiene in daily life. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation [Internet]. 2003 Jun 1 [cited 2023 Apr 24];51(4):299–302. Available from:  

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