How to tell when carrots go bad?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “how to tell when carrots go bad?”. We will also discuss the health consequences of eating spoiled carrots, and how to prolong the shelf life of carrots.

How to tell when carrots go bad?

To verify if your carrots are bad, you can check the following features:

Important: Eating spoiled carrots can make you very sick, especially if your carrots are contaminated with harmful microorganisms (1-4).

  • Examine the carrots thoroughly for mold spots. Mold will appear on the carrots as a weird color, such as a green or white patch. 

If you see mold on the carrots, discard them. You should never eat carrots contaminated with molds as they can produce harmful mycotoxins that can make you sick (3, 5).

  • Examine the carrots’ texture. If the carrots are mushy or have sensitive patches, the product’s quality has degraded. Even if the carrots have not rotted, they must be thrown to reduce the danger of foodborne illness.
  • Find white blush: A few white lines might be seen on the surface of your carrots. This color is referred to as white blush. It is a very thin coating of carrots that have been dehydrated. It manifests itself when carrots are left open to the air, which causes the uppermost layer of the carrot’s skin to dry up and crack.
  • You could also inspect the size of the carrot as well as its thickness. If it’s already a little less than its original size, toss it out straight away.
  • Smell the carrots: When you cook carrots that have already gone bad, they’ll emit an unpleasant smell. Bacterial growth in the carrots is what’s causing the foul odor you’re smelling. 

You should sniff your carrots, and if any of them have a strange smell, you should discard them immediately. 

Can you get sick from eating spoiled carrots?

Yes, eating spoiled carrots can pose several risks to your health due to the presence of harmful pathogens (1-4). 

While carrots generally have a longer shelf life compared to other perishable foods, they can still spoil under certain conditions. 

When carrots spoil, they may exhibit physical changes such as a slimy texture, mold growth, or an off-putting odor as previously described.

If you consume spoiled carrots contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, you may experience various symptoms of foodborne illness and poisoning (6). 

Here, you can find some examples of harmful pathogens associated with spoiled carrots and the symptoms they can cause:

  • Salmonella: This bacteria can contaminate carrots through contact with contaminated soil, water, or animal feces. Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and vomiting (2).
  • Listeria monocytogenes: This bacteria can survive and grow at refrigerator temperatures, making it a potential concern for refrigerated spoiled carrots (1, 7). 

Listeriosis, caused by Listeria, can lead to symptoms like fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, and severe complications in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, newborns, and individuals with weakened immune systems (8).

  • Escherichia coli: Certain strains of E. coli, such as E. coli O157:H7, can cause foodborne illness. Contamination can occur if carrots come into contact with animal feces or contaminated water during cultivation (1). 

Symptoms of E. coli infection may include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and sometimes mild fever.   

  • Clostridium botulinum: This anaerobic bacterium produces a toxin that can cause botulism, a rare but serious illness (9). 

While botulism is more commonly associated with improperly canned foods, it’s important to note that consuming spoiled carrots that have been improperly stored or preserved can also lead to botulism (3).

Symptoms may include blurred vision, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and paralysis.

It is crucial that you note that these are just a few examples of pathogens that can contaminate spoiled carrots. So, you should always discard any carrots that show any sign of spoilage.

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

If you have eaten spoiled carrots and you are feeling unwell, you should first assess your symptoms and their severity. 

If you are experiencing severe or persistent symptoms, seek immediate medical attention and follow their advice and recommendations, including any prescribed medications or dietary changes.

In addition, you should stay hydrated by drinking fluids and rest to allow your body to recover (10). 

If necessary, dispose of any remaining spoiled carrots and you should always  practice good hygiene to prevent further contamination (11). 

How to properly handle carrots to avoid spoilage?

It is important that you understand how to preserve carrots properly to avoid spoilage. In addition, you must know how to extend its shelf life.

The easiest method to accomplish it is to freeze or at least refrigerate them. 

In order to prolong the shelf life of carrots, consider the following suggestions:

  • Freeze cooked carrots: When carrots have been cooked you should immediately place them in the freezer in order to preserve their peak levels of freshness, flavor, and texture.

You may accomplish this by uniformly putting the carrot slices on a baking sheet and freezing them. After the carrots have been frozen for the appropriate amount of time, store them in containers that may be sealed.

  • Blanch the sliced carrots: Blanch the carrot slices even if you have previously cut them into smaller pieces. After they have been allowed to cool down, the carrots should be drained and then placed in bags that may be sealed with a zip lock.  

Take out as much air as you can from the container. You may seal the packages using a vacuum sealing mechanism to guarantee that they contain little or no air.

  • If you store them in the fridge they will stay fresh for 4 to 5 weeks and if you store them in the freezer they can be kept there for 2 to 3 months.
  • If you want to keep your raw carrots in good condition for longer, avoid putting them in plastic bags in the pantry. When moisture is unable to escape, it may lead to the growth of mold. 
  • Carrots release ethylene gas when mature, which increases ripening and rotting. To maintain the carrots’ freshness while they are stored in the refrigerator, put the carrots in a plastic bag.


In this brief article, we answered the question “how to tell when carrots go bad?”. We also discussed the health consequences of eating spoiled carrots, and how to prolong the shelf life of carrots.


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