Why does food go bad?

In this guide, we will address and answer the query, “why does food go bad?” and answer other similar related questions like “How can you tell food has gone bad?” and “What happens if you eat food that has gone bad?”

Why does food go bad?

Food goes bad because of one of the following reasons

  • Lack of proper refrigeration
  • Poor food hygiene
  • Food Poisoning

Lack of proper refrigeration

If food is not refrigerated, it will spoil quickly. Bacteria will grow on the food, and the food will become unsafe to eat.

 Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments. Refrigeration slows the growth of bacteria by keeping food cold, which slows down their metabolism. However, if food is not properly refrigerated, bacteria can quickly multiply and cause food poisoning.

 Poor food hygiene

Poor food hygiene can lead to food spoilage or food poisoning. If food is not prepared or stored properly, bacteria can grow on it and make people sick. One of the most common ways that poor hygiene causes food spoilage is through cross-contamination.

This occurs when pathogens from one food item are transferred to another food item, usually through contact with contaminated surfaces or utensils. Poor hygiene in food preparation and handling can also lead to food spoilage through the growth of pathogens that cause foodborne illness. 

Food poisoning

You get food poisoning when you consume food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or toxins. Bacteria produce toxins that cause food poisoning by releasing them into the food. The toxins then enter the body through the digestive system and cause an infection.

Toxins can spoil food by causing it to rot or mold. Toxins can also make food taste bad, making it inedible. Lastly, toxins can cause food poisoning if consumed.

How can you tell food has gone bad?

The best way to tell if food has gone bad is to use the body’s senses. Start by smelling. Spoilt food often smells bad, and can sometimes smell like it has a chemical or sulphuric smell If the food smells bad, then it is probably bad. 

Another way to tell that food has spoilt is if it is discolored or if it has a strange texture

If you are unsure if food has gone bad, it is always best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.

How do you prevent food from going bad fast?

Store food properly

 Perishable foods should be refrigerated 2 hours after purchasing. Freeze food that will not be used within 2 days. Refrigeration prevents food spoilage by slowing down the growth of bacteria. Bacteria need warmth and moisture to grow, so by keeping food cold and dry, bacteria are unable to grow and food stays fresh for longer.

 When food is frozen, the water inside the food cells turns to ice and this prevents the growth of bacteria. Bacteria need water to grow, so by removing the water, bacteria are unable to grow and food stays fresh for longer.

 Avoid cross contamination:

You should thoroughly wash your hands using water and soap before and after handling food. Keep raw meat separate from other food. Use separate cutting boards and knives, never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, and thoroughly clean all surfaces, utensils, and equipment that come into contact with raw meat.

 Check expiry date

Use food before the expiration date Check the expiration date on food before you purchase it. Do not buy or eat food that has already expired. Flours, it is best to buy them four months before the expiry date.

What happens if you eat food that has gone bad?

If you eat spoiled food, you may experience food poisoning. This is because spoilt food contains harmful bacteria that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

 In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to dehydration, which can be life-threatening. If you think you have eaten spoiled food, it is important to see a doctor immediately.

 If you have a weakened immune system, you may be more susceptible to food poisoning and should be extra careful when handling and eating food.

For details on Food poisoning. Click here


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “why does food go bad?”  We have also discussed, “What happens if you eat food that has gone bad?” and “How do you prevent food from going bad fast?”

Hope you found this blog useful, if you have any questions, please let us know







What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.