How to know if an avocado is spoiled/rotten (5 cues)
In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “how to know if avocado is spoiled”, discuss the different methods of identifying spoiled avocado and the potential health effects after consuming spoiled avocado.
How to know if an avocado is spoiled/rotten?
You can consider the following five signs related to appearance, texture, smell, and taste if you want to determine if your avocados are spoiled or not:
Important: eating a spoiled avocado could be dangerous for your health (1-5). You should not eat spoiled avocados!
- Appearance: mostly spoiled avocados tend to have molds on the surface. You should check the surface of your avocados for any visible mold or dark spots.
If you see a mold growing on the skin of the avocado, then it is unhealthy to eat. It is better to toss away such avocados. Always be careful and inspect your food before eating, whether it has fungus or not.
Usually, the fresh avocados are light green. If you observe that the color of avocados has turned into dark green or brown, then it means that the avocados have been spoiled.
If some parts of avocado have turned brown and most of it is still green, then it is still safe for you to consume after removing that part. If you realize that your avocado appears to be overly wrinkled, shriveled, or has sunken areas may be spoiled.
- Texture: gently press the avocado with your fingers. If it feels mushy or excessively soft throughout, it is likely spoiled. A ripe avocado should yield slightly to gentle pressure but still maintain its shape.
If a bit of pressure is applied to the avocado and it squishes. This is a sign that some worms eat from the inside, and the avocado has been stored improperly for a long time. Avocados generally don’t get squashed that much comfortably.
- Smell: You can also tell a spoiled avocado by smelling it. Smelling is a very common method to know whether the avocado is spoiled or not. Bad avocado gives off a very stinky and foul smell.
A fresh avocado typically has a mild, earthy aroma. Therefore, it is better to toss away such fruits, which are giving off a foul odor.
- Taste: Suppose you take a bite of the avocado and see that there is something off about the taste. You should then trust your instincts and leave the rest of the avocado.
If you take a small bite and notice an unusual or bitter taste, it suggests that the avocado has gone bad. Remember that fresh avocados have a buttery, creamy, and mildly nutty flavor.
- Visual cues while cutting: When you see that there are no signs on the surface of being spoiled, cut the avocado in two halves, and see the flesh of the avocado.
If you have some bruises, dark streaks, signs of rot in the flesh or unusual discoloration, then this means that the avocado is spoiled.
When you cut into an avocado, a spoiled one may have a stringy or fibrous texture, rather than a smooth and creamy consistency.
It is very important to note that an avocado may still be edible even if you see some minor signs of spoilage, especially if the spoilage is limited to only a small area.
However, if the avocado exhibits multiple signs of spoilage or an off-putting odor or taste, it is best to discard it to avoid any potential health risks.
Can you get sick from eating a spoiled avocado?
Yes, eating spoiled avocados can pose several health risks as it may contain harmful bacteria and molds that can cause different health problems (1-5).
Some of the potential dangers of eating spoiled avocados include:
- Food poisoning: eating spoiled avocado can lead to food poisoning, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever (6). The symptoms typically appear within a few hours to a few days after eating the spoiled food.
- Allergic reactions: in some cases, spoiled avocado may contain molds that can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals (7). Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include itching, hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing.
- Aflatoxin poisoning: avocado can be contaminated with a type of toxin called aflatoxin, which is produced by certain types of molds (2,8). Aflatoxin poisoning can cause liver damage and increase the risk of liver cancer over time.
Some of the most common harmful microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness from spoiled avocado include Salmonella, Listeria, molds, and pathogenic E. coli (3,5).
Be aware that food poisoning could be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems (6). It is therefore not wise to eat spoiled avocados, especially if you belong to one of these high-risk groups.
If you experience any symptoms of food poisoning or an allergic reaction after eating spoiled avocado, seek medical attention immediately.
What should you do if you suspect you have eaten a spoiled avocado?
If you have consumed a spoiled avocado and suspect that you may have adverse effects, it is important to take appropriate actions as soon as possible. Here you find some tips to consider:
- Monitor your symptoms: you should pay close attention to any signs of gastrointestinal discomfort or food poisoning. It is important that you have a record of the severity and duration of your symptoms.
- Stay hydrated: you must drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration caused by vomiting or diarrhea to help recovering (9)
- Seek medical advice: if your symptoms are persistent and severe, or if you’re part of a high-risk group previously mentioned, then it is highly recommended that you go and see your doctor as soon as possible. They could help you to find the best treatment for your condition.
- Prevent further contamination: you should guarantee that any remaining spoiled avocado is discarded properly and you should also sanitize any surfaces, utensils, or containers that encountered the spoiled avocado to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.
How to properly handle an avocado to avoid spoilage?
There are different ways of handling your avocados if you want to extend their shelf life and prevent spoilage. The shelf life of your avocados mainly depends on the type (variety) that you are handling and whether they are ripe or unripe (1, 10).
Tips for ripe avocados (Short-Term Storage):
- Choose ripe avocados: select avocados that yield slightly to gentle pressure when pressed with your palm. They should have a darker skin color but not be overly soft or mushy.
- Store at room temperature: keep ripe avocados at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Placing them in a bowl or on the kitchen bench.
- Separate from other fruits: different fruits can produce ethylene, which accelerates ripening (11). Keeping them separate from your avocados can prevent premature spoilage.
- Check for ripeness: Check avocados regularly and consume them promptly once they reach the desired ripeness.
Tips for unripe avocados (Long-Term Storage):
- Refrigerate unripe avocados: if you have unripe avocados, store them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.
- Place in a paper bag: to speed up the ripening of unripe avocados, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple. These fruits release ethylene, which helps avocados ripen faster (11).
- Check ripeness before consumption: Take the refrigerated avocados out and allow them to reach room temperature before consuming. They will continue to ripen outside the refrigerator.
As mentioned before, the shelf life can vary depending on the type of avocado (10-11).
Hass avocados can last for 2 to 7 days when ripe at room temperature, while Fuerte avocado have a slightly longer shelf life (they can last for about 3 to 8 days) when ripe at room temperature (10-11).
You should handle your avocados gently to prevent damage to the skin or flesh. Remember that they bruise easily!
Remember that avocados are sensitive to moisture, so avoid washing them until you’re ready to consume them.
We hope that these tips can help you to maximize the shelf life of our avocados and safely enjoy them at their best quality.
In this brief article, we answered the question “how to know if avocado is spoiled”, and discussed the different methods of identifying spoiled avocado and the potential health effects after consuming spoiled avocado.
1. Wogu, Ighile NE. Microorganisms associated with the spoilage of avocado pear, Persea Americana fruits. AFRREV STECH An Int J Sci Technol [Internet]. 2014 Jul 4 [cited 2023 May 15];3(2):244–58. Available from: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/stech/article/view/104986
2. Parkinson LE, Bransgrove K, Dann EK, Geering ADW. Biosecurity capacity for the Australian avocado industry. Int Trop Agric Conf 2019 [Internet]. 2019 Jan 1 [cited 2023 May 15];80–80. Available from: https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:ae12630
3. Arvizu-Medrano SM, Iturriaga MH, Escartín EF. INDICATOR AND PATHOGENIC BACTERIA IN GUACAMOLE AND THEIR BEHAVIOR IN AVOCADO PULP. J Food Saf [Internet]. 2001 Dec 1 [cited 2023 May 15];21(4):233–44. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-4565.2001.tb00322.x
4. Chen Y, Evans P, Hammack TS, Brown EW, Macarisin D. Internalization of Listeria monocytogenes in Whole Avocado. J Food Prot [Internet]. 2016 Aug 1 [cited 2023 May 15];79(8):1440–5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27497134/
5. Rezende ACB, Crucello J, Moreira RC, Silva BS, Sant’Ana AS. Incidence and growth of Salmonella enterica on the peel and pulp of avocado (Persea americana) and custard apple (Annona squamosa). Int J Food Microbiol [Internet]. 2016 Oct 17 [cited 2023 May 15];235:10–6. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168160516303270
6. 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: http://hvm.bioflux.com.ro/docs/2015.108-113.pdf
7. Blanco C, Carrillo T, Castillo R, Quiralte J, Cuevas M. Avocado hypersensitivity. Allergy [Internet]. 1994 Jul 1 [cited 2023 May 15];49(6):454–9. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1398-9995.1994.tb00839.x
8. Drusch S, Ragab W. Mycotoxins in Fruits, Fruit Juices, and Dried Fruits. J Food Prot. 2003 Aug 1;66(8):1514–27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12929850/
9. McRobert GR. THE TREATMENT OF BACTERIAL FOOD POISONING. Br Med J [Internet]. 1934 Aug 8 [cited 2023 May 10];2(3841):304. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2445530/
10. Kassim A, Workneh T, Bezuidenhout C. A review on postharvest handling of avocado fruit. African J Agric Res [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2023 May 15]; Available from: https://academicjournals.org/journal/AJAR/article-full-text-pdf/E6F076B34025
11. Adato I, Gazit S. Postharvest Response of Avocado Fruits of Different Maturity to Delayed Ethylene Treatments. Plant Physiol [Internet]. 1974 Jun 1 [cited 2023 May 15];53(6):899–902. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/plphys/article/53/6/899/6073967