How to know if the oranges are spoiled? (3 easy ways)

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “how to know if the oranges are spoiled”, discuss the different methods of identifying spoiled oranges and the potential health effects of eating spoiled oranges.

How to know if oranges are spoiled?

If you want to know if your oranges are spoiled or not, you can consider the following signs related to their appearance, texture, and smell:

Important: It is not recommended to eat spoiled oranges as they can cause you serious health problems (1-4).

  • Appearance: you should always check the presence of molds on the surface of your oranges. 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 (4). 

You should look for any significant changes in color. If the orange appears excessively dark, dull, or has an unnatural shade, it is most probably spoiled. In addition, a spoiled orange might have a dehydrated and wrinkled outer skin, indicating that it has lost its moisture.

  • Texture: a fresh orange should be firm and have a slight give when squeezed, while a spoiled orange may have a dry or spongy texture, indicating that the fruit’s moisture content has significantly decreased. So, you can gently squeeze your oranges. 

If it feels overly soft, mushy, or squishy, it is likely spoiled.

  • Smell: we recommend you take a sniff of the orange. If you detect an unpleasant or foul smell, it could be a sign of spoilage. Spoiled oranges may emit a fermented, musty, or rotten odor. You should not smell the orange if there is mold on it. 

Mold produces mycotoxins, and if you inhale mold orange, those mycotoxins enter our body, and they can make you seriously ill (4).

Remember that these signs are indicators of spoilage, but they are not definitive proof. Thus, if you are unsure about the freshness and safety of your oranges, it is always best to discard it to avoid any potential health risks.

Can you get sick from eating spoiled oranges?

Yes, eating spoiled oranges can pose various health risks 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 (1-4).

These microorganisms can cause foodborne illnesses, resulting in symptoms including:

  • Symptoms of gastrointestinal issues like:
  • Nausea and vomiting: eating spoiled oranges contaminated with certain bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli can lead to nausea and vomiting (2).
  • Diarrhea: bacterial pathogens like Campylobacter or Shigella can cause diarrhea when ingested through spoiled oranges (1).
  • Abdominal pain and cramps: some foodborne pathogens, such as Clostridium perfringens or Staphylococcus aureus, can cause abdominal discomfort and cramps (1).
  • Symptoms of infection and Intoxication like:
  • Fever: infections caused by bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes can lead to elevated body temperature (5).
  • Headaches: certain pathogens, including Clostridium botulinum, produce neurotoxins that can cause severe headaches if consumed through contaminated oranges (6).
  • Weakness and fatigue: foodborne illnesses can result in weakness, fatigue, and overall malaise.

If you suspect that you have consumed spoiled oranges and experience any of these symptoms, it is recommended to seek medical attention immediately.

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

If you have consumed spoiled oranges and suspect that you may have foodborne illness, it is very important that you take appropriate actions. You should:

  • Monitor your symptoms: pay attention to any signs of gastrointestinal distress such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or fever. You should note the severity and duration of symptoms.
  • Stay hydrated: drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, to prevent dehydration caused by vomiting or diarrhea. Replenishing lost fluids is crucial for your well-being (7).
  • Seek medical advice: if you experience severe symptoms, persistent illness, or if you are part of a high-risk group (such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, or individuals with weakened immune systems), it is highly recommended to promptly consult a healthcare professional. 

They can provide appropriate guidance and treatment if needed.

  • Prevent further contamination: ensure that any remaining oranges that are potentially contaminated are discarded properly. You should also clean and sanitize any surfaces, utensils, or containers that meet the spoiled oranges to prevent cross-contamination.

We recommend you to always ask a healthcare professional for personalized guidance based on your specific situation.

How to properly handle oranges to avoid spoilage?

You can follow the next guideline to properly handle your oranges and extend their shelf life:

Remember: The shelf life of oranges can vary based on their freshness and storage conditions. On average, unrefrigerated oranges can last for up to one week, while refrigerated oranges can remain fresh for approximately 1-2 months (8).

For a Short-Term Storage (up to 1 week) you should:

  • Choose fresh oranges: select oranges that have vibrant, firm skins without any visible damage or soft spots.
  • Store at room temperature: keep oranges in a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid moisture, be sure that your oranges are not exposed to excessive moisture, as it can promote mold growth.
  • Separate from other fruits: oranges produce ethylene gas, which can accelerate the ripening process of other fruits. Keep them separate to prevent premature spoilage.

For a Long-Term Storage (1-2 months) you should:

  • Refrigerate the oranges: place the oranges in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer or a ventilated bag to maintain their freshness.
  • Optimal temperature and humidity: store oranges at a temperature between 35-50°F (2-10°C) with a relative humidity of 80-90%.
  • Check for spoilage: regularly inspect stored oranges for any signs of molds, decay, or softening. Remove any spoiled oranges promptly to prevent contamination.

You should handle your oranges gently to prevent bruising or damaging their skins, as these can provide entry points for molds or bacteria. 

Be aware that moisture can accelerate spoilage, so keeping them dry will help to prolong their freshness.

By following this guideline, you will be able to safely enjoy your fresh and flavorful oranges.     


In this brief article, we answered the question “how to know if the oranges are spoiled”, and discussed the different methods of identifying spoiled oranges and the potential health effects of eating spoiled oranges.


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