Can you get sick from drinking moldy juice?

Juice that has visible mold growth or an off odor should never be consumed. Moldy juice contains toxins produced by the mold that can make you sick. While one sip of moldy juice is unlikely to cause illness in most people, larger amounts or repeated exposure increases the risk. Certain groups, like people with weakened immune systems, are more vulnerable to getting sick from drinking moldy juice.

What is mold?

Mold is a type of microscopic fungus that grows in warm, damp environments. It produces spores that spread easily through the air. When mold spores land on a moist food source like fruit juice, they can grow into visible mold colonies. These colonies appear as fuzzy or slimy growths that are often green, black, or white.

Mold grows from tiny spores that are present in all environments. When conditions are right, these spores germinate and produce root-like filaments called hyphae. The hyphae release digestive enzymes that break down organic matter, allowing the mold to absorb nutrients. This is how mold feeds and spreads on juice, bread, cheese and other foods.

Why can mold grow in juice?

The high moisture content and nutrients in fruit juice create an ideal environment for mold growth. Freshly squeezed juice contains sugars, vitamins and minerals that mold can use as food to multiply. Juice also provides the damp conditions mold needs to thrive.

Once mold spores land in juice, they germinate and grow quickly if the temperature is between 40-100°F. Mold grows fastest at warmer temperatures around 70-80°F. Refrigerating juice helps slow mold growth, but does not completely prevent it.

The high acidity of juice allows certain types of mold to grow that would not survive in less acidic foods. Penicillium and Aspergillus species are examples of mold that can tolerate the low pH of juices.

Signs of mold in juice

Here are the most common signs that juice has mold contamination:

  • Visible fuzzy growths floating in the juice or along the container sides
  • Cloudiness or sediment in the juice
  • White, green, black or blue tints to the juice
  • An off taste – sour, musty or bitter
  • An unnatural smell – moldy, earthy or stale

Mold can grow below the surface of juice too, so bubbles or thick texture can also indicate hidden mold growth inside the bottle. Always inspect juice carefully before drinking and discard at the first sign of contamination.

Dangers of drinking moldy juice

Consuming moldy juice puts you at risk for illness from the toxins that mold produces. Here are some of the main health dangers:


Mold releases toxic chemical compounds called mycotoxins as part of its normal metabolism. Mycotoxins contaminate the food the mold is growing on. Over 300 different mycotoxins have been identified from common molds.

Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can cause symptoms like:

  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Headache and dizziness

The severity depends on the type and amount of mycotoxins ingested. Prompt medical treatment is advised if you develop concerning symptoms after drinking moldy juice.

Allergic reactions

Some molds produce spores and compounds that are allergenic for sensitive individuals. Drinking contaminated juice can trigger allergic reactions such as:

  • Hives, itchy rash or skin redness
  • Runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat
  • Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Severe mold allergies can lead to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Seek emergency care if swelling or breathing difficulties occur after consuming moldy juice.


Although less common, certain molds can directly infect people under the right conditions. An example is Geotrichum candidum found in spoiled citrus juices. This mold can cause oral thrush or spread through the GI tract leading to sepsis in immunocompromised patients.

Groups at highest risk

Healthy adults and children are generally resilient to small mold exposures from food. But some groups are more vulnerable to becoming sick from drinking moldy juice:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly individuals
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems – cancer, HIV/AIDS, organ transplant patients
  • Individuals taking antibiotics or steroids
  • People with chronic illnesses like diabetes, lung disease, etc.

Those with mold allergies are also at higher risk for severe reactions. When immune defenses are lower, mold toxins and infections can more easily take hold.

Common molds in juice

There are thousands of mold species, but only certain types can grow in high-acid juices. Here are some of the most common molds found contaminating fruit juices:

Mold Color Health risks
Penicillium Green, blue-green Allergenic, produces ochratoxin mycotoxin
Aspergillus Green, black, yellow Allergenic, produces aflatoxin mycotoxin
Rhizopus Black Produces rhizoxin toxin
Mucor Grey, tan Rarely causes infection in immunocompromised
Geotrichum White, yellow Can cause oral thrush and GI infections

Penicillium and Aspergillus are the most common and produce some of the most concerning mycotoxins. But various molds can grow in juice exposed to air, moisture and warmer temperatures.

Is it safe to drink juice with a little mold?

No, juice containing any visible mold should be discarded. Even a small amount of mold indicates the potential presence of invisible toxins that can make you sick. Over time, these toxins can also permeate the entire bottle.

Mold can send out threadlike roots and spores throughout the juice that may not be apparent. So while you may only see a spot of mold, contamination may be more extensive.

For these reasons, partially moldy juice or juice from a container with some mold growth should always be thrown out. It is better to be safe than risk severe illness.

Can you make moldy juice safe to drink?

There is no reliable method to make moldy juice safe for consumption. Heat from boiling does not fully destroy mycotoxins, so cooking or reheating moldy juice is ineffective.

Similarly, adding preservatives or acid like vinegar may prevent mold from growing further but cannot neutralize existing toxins.

Freezing or refrigerating moldy juice also will not make it non-toxic. The only way to ensure moldy juice is safe is to properly dispose of it.

How to prevent mold growth in juice

You can minimize the chance of mold contamination and extend the shelf life of juice by:

  • Refrigerating juice – Keep unopened juice chilled at 40°F or below
  • Checking expiration dates – Discard past expiration even if juice looks normal
  • Cleaning lids and spouts – Mold can hide in crevices and recontaminate juice
  • Using clean cups – Dirty cups can introduce mold spores
  • Avoiding temperature abuse – Don’t leave juice unrefrigerated for long periods
  • Monitoring bottles – Discard at any signs of cloudiness, bubbles or odor
  • Limiting storage time – Drink within 3-5 days of opening for maximum freshness

Purchasing small single-serve bottles or juice pouches can help prevent mold growth after opening too. Follow expiration dates closely for the safest juice.

What to do if you drank moldy juice

If you realize you drank juice containing mold, the best thing to do is monitor yourself closely for any symptoms over the next 48 hours. Look out for:

  • Stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Fever, chills or fatigue
  • Skin rash, itching or redness
  • Swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing

Seek prompt medical attention if you develop any concerning or persistent symptoms, especially vomiting, difficulty breathing or signs of an allergic reaction. You should also contact your doctor for evaluation if you have a compromised immune system or known mold allergy.

In most healthy adults, a small one-time exposure from a sip of moldy juice is unlikely to cause illness. But discard the remainder of the contaminated juice to prevent re-exposure. When in doubt, call your doctor or poison control if symptoms develop.


Drinking juice contaminated with visible mold puts you at risk for adverse health effects. Moldy juice contains harmful mycotoxins and allergens that can cause symptoms ranging from nausea and headaches to life-threatening reactions.

To stay safe, inspect juice carefully before drinking and discard at the first sign of mold growth, bubbles, sediment, discoloration or off odors. Heating, freezing or adding preservatives cannot destroy toxins. Refrigerate juice, avoid temperature abuse and discard past expiration dates.

If you accidentally drink moldy juice, monitor yourself closely for 48 hours for any concerning symptoms and seek medical care if needed. When handled properly, juice can be part of a healthy diet. But moldy juice is dangerous and should always be thrown out.

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