How to tell if a cut watermelon has got spoiled?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “How to tell if a cut watermelon has got spoiled?”. Moreover, we will discuss the health consequences of eating a watermelon that has spoiled and the methods to store a cut watermelon to avoid its spoilage.

How to tell if a cut watermelon has got spoiled?

You can tell when a cut watermelon has gone spoilt by checking for molds and soggy spots. Water-melon that looks discolored or has a slimy texture needs to be avoided as well.

Important: you should be aware that eating a cut watermelon that has spoiled can cause severe health problems due to the presence of harmful microorganisms and toxins (1-4). Do not eat spoiled watermelon!

The following recommendations will help you to determine if your cut watermelon has got spoiled:

  • Check the best by date or expiration date of the pre-cut watermelon. If the watermelon has been past the expiry date, avoid consuming them.
  • White, green, or black spots outside the watermelon are indications of mold growth. Be careful with molds! They produce harmful mycotoxins that can make you very sick (1).
  • A good watermelon should have a striped green color or green shade.
  • The inside of a good watermelon should have a pinkish or reddish color. Certain varieties of watermelon have an orangish or yellowish color as well.
  • Avoid consuming watermelon that has a slimy, gritty, or mushy texture.
  • Avoid consuming watermelon that smells sour or tangy.
  • Watermelon should have a sweet taste. Avoid consuming watermelons that have a sour taste.
  • Avoid consuming watermelon having a yellow rind as it is an indicator of the presence of nitrates.
  • Buy watermelons containing a firmer rind and a moist texture.

Can you get sick from eating a cut watermelon that has spoiled?

Yes, the precut watermelon can get spoiled easily and if proper practices are not followed while cutting the watermelon, it can lead to the contamination of the watermelon with harmful microorganisms (2-4).

Bacteria are one of the main concerns when it comes to spoiled food. If a cut watermelon is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli, it can lead to foodborne illnesses (2-4). 

Symptoms of foodborne illnesses may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody, abdominal pain or cramps, fever and headache (5). 

If a cut watermelon is exposed to mold, it can also cause various health issues (1). Mold can produce toxins, such as mycotoxins, which can be harmful when ingested (1,6). 

Symptoms may include allergic reactions (e.g., sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes), respiratory problems (e.g., difficulty breathing, asthma exacerbation), headaches, nausea, fatigue and skin rashes (7).

You should avoid cross-contamination of your watermelon with other foods. This can be the result of storing your cut watermelon in unsanitary conditions or handled with contaminated utensils or cutting boards. So, you should always follow the proper safety practices to avoid spoilage (8).

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten a cut watermelon that has spoiled?

If you have eaten spoiled cut watermelon and experience symptoms of foodborne illness like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain (5), it is very important to monitor your symptoms and stay hydrated. 

You should seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe or persist. 

To prevent future cases, you should practice good food safety habits like proper storage and hygiene during food preparation following the standard rules (8).

How to properly handle a cut watermelon to avoid spoilage?

First, you should know that a pre-cut watermelon has a shorter shelf life compared to a whole watermelon. Thus, when storing cut watermelon, it is recommended to keep it in an airtight container or resealable bag in the refrigerator. 

The pre-cut watermelon can last for about three to five days in the refrigerator, but it is advised not to consume it after two weeks. Refrigeration, however, may reduce the nutritional value of the watermelon.

If you plan to freeze pre-cut watermelon, ensure it is stored in an airtight package or container. Frozen pre-cut watermelon can be used in smoothies or for making fruit-infused water. 

To use it in smoothies, remove the seeds, cut the watermelon into cubes, and freeze them in aluminum foil. Once frozen, transfer the cubes into freezer bags. For fruit-infused water, remove the rinds, place the watermelon in water, freeze them on a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and then transfer to freezer bags.

Alternatively, pre-cut watermelon can be pickled or turned into jelly. To pickle the watermelon, add vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice to the pieces, boil the ingredients, arrange the slices in jars, seal the jars, and allow them to cool. 

To make watermelon jelly, simmer the watermelon juice until it thickens, add pectin and sweetener, and store in jars.

Whole watermelons have a longer shelf life compared to pre-cut watermelons. Whole watermelons can be kept at room temperature for 7-8 days and can last for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. 

However, once a watermelon is cut, it needs to be immediately refrigerated or consumed and should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. It is important to avoid keeping cut watermelons at temperatures between 41 to 135℉ for an extended period to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria (9).

Finally, remember that it is crucial to follow proper storage and handling practices to ensure the freshness and safety of both pre-cut and whole watermelons.


In this brief article, we answered the question, “How to tell if a cut watermelon has got spoiled?”. Moreover, we discussed the health consequences of eating a watermelon that has spoiled and the methods to store a cut watermelon to avoid its spoilage.


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