What happens If you eat expired turkey? (+3 Tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “What happens If you eat expired turkey?”. Moreover, we will discuss how to identify spoiled turkey, the health consequences of eating spoiled turkey and how to store turkey to prevent its spoilage.

What happens If you eat expired turkey?

Eating expired turkey can lead to food poisoning due to the growth of harmful bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria and Escherichia coli (1-4).

These harmful microorganisms have been associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain (5). 

It is therefore very important to avoid consuming expired turkey to prevent any potential health risk.

What are the health risks of eating expired turkey?

Eating expired turkey carries several health risks due to the potential growth of harmful bacteria. Here, we summarize the main risks associated with eating expired turkey:

  1. Bacterial contamination: Expired turkey can be a breeding ground for bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria and Escherichia coli (1-4).

These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps (5).

  1. Food poisoning: Consuming expired turkey increases the risk of food poisoning. The bacteria present in expired meat can produce toxins in the body, leading to gastrointestinal distress and discomfort (6-7).
  1. Dehydration: Foodborne illnesses caused by eating expired turkey can lead to dehydration due to increased fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhea. It is especially risky for young children, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems (7).
  1. Severe complications: In severe cases, expired turkey consumption can lead to more serious complications such as kidney damage, hemolytic uremic syndrome, or reactive arthritis (7). 

These complications may require medical intervention and can have long-term health consequences.

To avoid these health risks, you should always practice proper food safety measures, including checking expiration dates, storing and cooking meat at appropriate temperatures (8), and promptly discarding any expired food item.

What should you do if you accidentally eat expired turkey?

If you accidentally eat expired turkey, it is recommended to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms such as persistent vomiting, high fever, or prolonged signs of dehydration. 

Remember that eating spoiled turkey can make you very sick, so you should always prioritize your safety!

How long does the turkey last?

The shelf life of turkey can vary depending on factors such as its form (fresh, frozen, cooked), storage conditions, and whether it has been properly handled. 

Generally, fresh turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before cooking. Cooked turkey can be safely refrigerated for 3-4 days. 

If properly frozen, turkey can be stored for several months to a year.

We recommend you to always check the expiration date or use-by date on the packaging for specific guidelines and to follow proper storage and handling practices to ensure food safety.

How to store turkey to prevent its spoilage?

To store turkey and prevent spoilage, follow these guidelines:

  1. Refrigeration: If you have raw, fresh turkey, store it in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below. Keep it in its original packaging or place it in a shallow, covered container to prevent cross-contamination with other foods. Consume or freeze the turkey within 1-2 days.
  1. Freezing: If you want to extend the turkey’s shelf life, freeze it promptly. Wrap the turkey tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. For optimal quality, consume frozen turkey within several months.
  1. Cooked turkey: After roasting or cooking turkey, let it cool to room temperature within two hours. Then, refrigerate the cooked turkey in shallow, airtight containers. Consume it within 3-4 days.
  1. Use-by dates: Always check the expiration or use-by date on the turkey’s packaging and consume it before that date to ensure freshness and safety.
  1. Proper handling: When handling turkey, follow good hygiene practices. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the turkey to avoid cross-contamination with other foods.

By following these storage practices, you can minimize the risk of turkey spoilage and ensure its quality and safety for consumption.


In this article, we answered the question “What happens If you eat expired turkey?”. Moreover, we discussed how to identify spoiled turkey, the health consequences of eating spoiled turkey and how to store turkey to prevent its spoilage.,


1. Synnott MB, Brindley M, Gray J, Dawson JK. An outbreak of Salmonella agona infection associated with precooked turkey meat. Commun Dis Public Heal [Internet]. 1998 Sep 1 [cited 2023 Jun 9];1(3):176–9. Available from: https://europepmc.org/article/med/9782632 

2. Cook A, Reid-Smith R, Irwin R, McEwen SA, Valdivieso-Garcia A, Ribble C. Antimicrobial Resistance in Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli Isolated from Retail Turkey Meat from Southern Ontario, Canada. J Food Prot [Internet]. 2009 Mar 1 [cited 2023 Jun 9];72(3):473–81. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0362028X2200285X 

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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. Lennard LB. Food microbiology and food poisoning. In: Food & Nutrition [Internet]. Taylor & francis Gr…. Routledge; 2020 [cited 2023 May 30]. p. 132–54. Available from: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003115663-11/food-microbiology-food-poisoning-louise-lennard 

8. Juneja VK, Huang L, Yan X. Thermal inactivation of foodborne pathogens and the USDA pathogen modeling program. J Therm Anal Calorim [Internet]. 2011 Apr 1 [cited 2023 May 3];106(1):191–8. Available from: https://akjournals.com/view/journals/10973/106/1/article-p191.xml 

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