What happens if you eat a bad tomato?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “What happens if you eat a bad tomato?”. We will further elaborate on the side effects of eating bad tomatoes and some ways to determine bad tomatoes. 

What happens if you eat a bad tomato?

If you eat a bad tomato, you may get sick. Eating a bad tomato is harmful as it may have infectious bacteria and molds that can result in food poisoning. The person may experience fever, vomiting, stomach pain, and bloody diarrhea.

Fresh tomatoes may go bad due to mold growth and bacterial contamination; they get soft and then discharge liquid when they are spoiling. Even the strong acidic juice in our stomach does not destroy harmful microorganisms, which will grow inside our bodies at a high pace.

Though the immune systems of most individuals will work to free their bodies of the pathogenic bacteria with limited or no long-term side effects, it often induces the not-so-pleasant symptoms of foodborne illness.

The consumption of bad tomatoes may also lead to liver inflammation, which in severe cases if left untreated may be fatal.

Tomatoes with visible black spots or white molds on them should be discarded. Some of the molds that develop on tomatoes can be harmful and cause illness.

During spoilage, bacteria start to utilize the nutrients of tomatoes to multiply and to cause more decay.

When this occurs, tomatoes lose their firm texture and nutrients. Most of the spoilage results due to long-distance traveling. It further exposes tomatoes to bacterial and fungal contamination.

How to know if tomatoes have gone bad?

Just like other vegetables, tomatoes are only good for a certain time. Once this time passes, consuming tomatoes or incorporating them into a recipe is not suggested. 

Thoroughly check the interior and exterior of the tomatoes for signs of spoilage, to prevent yourself and your family from being sick.

Examine the color

Examine the color of tomatoes. Discard if you find any discolouration or if the tomatoes are not very red.

Examine the texture

Look for any cracks, mold spots, hollow areas or other deterioration on the exterior surface of tomatoes. All of these indicate spoiled tomatoes.

Another way is to grip, but do not press the tomatoes. Good tomatoes are firm enough that they do not sink in as you grip them. Toss any tomatoes out if they feel soft.

Check for the smell

Smell the tomatoes. Bad tomatoes give off a stinking and foul smell.

Slice and see if the inside of the tomatoes feels slimy, has any mold spot or discolored area. Discard if you find any as these conditions indicate spoilage.


What is the shelf life of tomatoes?

The shelf life of tomatoes varies with the storage conditions. The below table shows the shelf life of tomatoes with respect to different storage conditions.

Type of tomatoStored at room temperatureStored in a refrigerator
Canned tomatoes1 year to 18 months if the can has not been unpacked7 days if it has been unpacked
Ripe tomatoes7 to 10 days5 to 10 days
Unripe tomatoes9-15 days based on unripeness Keeping in a freezer will speed up the rate of ripening
Fresh tomatoes                      7 days2 weeks

Is a wrinkled tomato bad?

A wrinkled tomato is not bad. The wrinkling of the tomato indicates that the skin is becoming more rigid as it matures.

As long as you do not smell any odor, indicate any symptoms of mold, or the tomato going bad, then it is safe to consume.

Wrinkling tomatoes are just an indication of dehydration. As all the water content in the tomatoes decreases, the outermost surface begins to wrinkle. The tomatoes may appear unappealing, but they are still safe to consume. 

How to make tomatoes last longer?

To increase the shelf life of tomatoes, follow the tips we have shared below.

Store unripe tomatoes with their stem side downward in a container or paper bag. Keep them in a cold place for storage until their color turns red.

Fully ripened tomatoes should be placed away from the sun rays when stored at room temperature.

Store ripened tomatoes with their stem side upward and keep them in a way that they do not touch each other.

Store overripe tomatoes in a refrigerator. The low concentration or lack of air in the refrigerator reduces the rate at which the tomatoes get ripened and should make them remain safe for a few more days.

Another way to save tomatoes is by pickling them i.e., by storing them in a salty, pickling solution.

Other FAQs about Tomatoes that you may be interested in.

Are blighted tomatoes safe to eat?

What is wrong with my tomato plants?

Are cracked tomatoes safe to eat?

Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce?


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “What happens if you eat a bad tomato?”. We have further elaborated on the side effects of eating bad tomatoes and some ways to determine bad tomatoes.