How to Know if the Food is Spoiled


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foods are stale and rotten

Ever seen an apple slice turned brown and wondered what to do about it? Well all of us are extremely worried when it comes to food poisoning arising out of the stale and rotten food items. Large number of Indian women end up using rotten foods as their understanding of stale may not be in exact. So we have a comprehensive compilation on how to know if the food is spoiled

How to tell if food has gone bad by looking at it:

We can tell if the food has turned bad by just looking at it. Though this would be the extreme of the cases as when the food items start showing they are stale, it means they have been rotten from past few days and must have been discarded back then itself. Some ways to check if food has gone bad by looking at it:

food has gone bad by looking at it1- Check expiry and date of manufacturing:

Most packed food items of our daily meals are packed and have a date of manufacturing and expiry date mentioned on it. Stick with them and discard as soon as it reaches date of expiry. Some myths consider date of expiry as just a simple process to pass the foods, and ignore it completely. Though the foods get expired a few days post expiry but the date of expiry is stated as until the food is kept in its utmost health and nutritive values.

2- Check for any pungent smell:

Most foods start giving out a pungent smell soon as they rot. In fact the food items like potato, chicken, eggs and onions are believed to be the most pathetic smelling when they turn bad. Keep smelling the fresh produce like fruits and vegetables for any rotten or stale presence

3- Check for any color change:

Bacteria causes food to change color and form ripened or over ripened effects. When the color changes to extremely unusual forms you must discard the food items

4- Check its surface if any spots seen:

Mold and other fungi can develop on food items if left at warmer places even within the expiry limits. Bread and cheese are the most victimized food items from molds. These spotty brown and green shades on foods must be taken as food gone bad and discarded

5- Cut a slice and see any change from normal:

Some foods may look fine from outside but when you cut them you may see discolorations and dried parts. Whenever you want to prepare food from fruits or vegetables, it is advised to cut them in small and open them to check for any probable discolorations

Cut a slice and see6- Keep it stored as stated:

We often keep most foods either in refrigerator or anywhere inside the pantry of our kitchen, but we must check the recommendations on the package for storing. If a cool dry place is stated, we must ensure the same space for the food item. Specially when the weather is volatile and the temperatures are constantly changing keep a thorough check on place stored and food condition

How to know the foods are stale and rotten:

It is easy to tell if a food item is stale or rotten, by examining the food or checking for some more details in it. These details show the food has gone bad and must be discarded. Some of such signs are:

1- By looking at it for slimy depositions or discolorations:

Slimy depositions are darker or browner color patches on food items. But most foods may also get hardened and discolored. Some foods dry when kept out and may not form patched but are definitely rotten

By looking2- By touching it and feeling the texture:

A texture is specific for a food item and thus must be checked always. For a hard food items, a soft and mushy patch means it is spoiled, for items with softer consistency if they get hard shows they are bad now

3- By smelling it for a bad odor:

Smell of a food item its the most critical and first line indicator for the food gone bad. The pungent and bad odor maybe due to the bacterial or viral infection which caused the food to be rotten

4- By tasting a small piece from it:

Tasting must be done properly and only if necessary, better to ignore the food than catch any infection. If the food tastes anything bad or tacky, immediately discard it

5- By keeping it outside for sometime and see how much it shrinks:

If you have just taken the food out of a refrigerator, keep it outside and check the shape of food. Some foods get so shrinked and dry after a few minutes of lying at room temperature, this signifies they have lost most of their nutrients already and are going stale

Spoiled food items like fruits and vegetables:

How to check some of the most used food items in your homes for if they are stale or rotten

  • Apple: Brown patches, and getting softer from patches
  • Banana: Dark brown patches on the fruits and appearing slimy
  • Avocado: If it gets too soft and dark from outside and ripened looking from inside it may have gone bad
  • Carrots: Shrinked and brown in color which can not be broken if twisted from anywhere
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables: Bad odor and dark leaves which are wet and look tacky
  • Cabbage: Black or brown dots on leaves of cabbage and getting hardened
  • Watermelon: Thread like lines with dry look, and seeming like a lump when you cut
  • Pepper: Smells bad bad and color changes to dark brown or black
  • Milk: Boil the milk and see if it splits, never use milk without boiling for food purposes
  • Cheese, butter, cream and paneer:

Smell, check for molds and taste, if its tangy with bad odor its time to discard it

Checking if frozen food is spoiled:

For frozen foods, it is always advisable to keep them out for at least half an hour and then soak in warm water. Check for freezer burns or icy crystals which are frosty. Also check date of manufacturing, you must not keep the food more than 3 months from packaging even in frozen state

Checking if refrigerated food is spoiled:

Refrigerated food also gets spoiled in less than a couple of days too. When the weather outside is volatile and changing you must store the refrigerated food also not more than 3-4 days. All the items like milk, meat, dairy and fruits or vegetables must be smelled, tasted and checked for turning bad before consuming

How to tell when leftovers go bad:

Spoilage bacteria are the main culprit which cause the left overs to go bad quickly. Also pathogens may cause food to get stale. Some points to consider for storing the food at home and preventing the spoilage are:

  1. Check temperature of your refrigerator and keep in prescribed limits, for every season there is a limit set for each food article
  2. Check spoilage clues like molds, smell and discoloration. Some foods are nit used regularly thus we forget checking their expiry and condition. Make sure to check each food item before using it

How to reduce food spoilage:

  1. Use a thermometer to keep temperature inside fridge maintained
  2. Check for expired food items and discard them regularly
  3. Keep all the food items at right spaces in the refrigerator, check manual for more.
  4. Clean the areas where you store the food items to keep them away from infections
  5. Separate the new fresh food items with older ones, and try to either use of discard old foods quickly
  6. Keep food items in a list which are present at your home to know when to finish what
  7. Eat leftovers in time, don’t consume it for too long
  8. Try to wet wipe and clean food items before storing
  9. Composting a great way to use your stale foods at home, this can be a good kitchen garden supplement.
  10. Learn details of preserving and pickling foods to prevent their staleness.


The above compilation on How to know if the food is spoiled is to help you keep the rotten and stale foods off your diet and prevent food poisoning and other infections. Share ahead and keep writing us, we love hearing from you!