What are the symptoms of bad orange juice?

Orange juice is a breakfast staple for many people. A glass of fresh squeezed orange juice can be a refreshing and healthy way to start your day. However, if orange juice has gone bad, it can cause unpleasant symptoms or even make you sick. Here’s what you need to know about the signs of spoiled orange juice and how to tell if your juice is still safe to drink.

How to tell if orange juice is bad

Freshly squeezed orange juice only stays good for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator before it starts to spoil. Here are some ways you can tell if your orange juice is past its prime:

  • Smell – Fresh orange juice has a sweet, citrusy smell. Spoiled orange juice will have a bitter, unpleasant odor.
  • Taste – Bad orange juice often tastes sour or bitter compared to when it’s fresh. It may have an off or acidic flavor.
  • Color – Instead of a bright orange, the juice may look darker and cloudy.
  • Texture – Old orange juice can become viscous and syrupy as it deteriorates.
  • Mold – You may see fuzz or mold growing in the bottle or carton.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw out the orange juice and get a new carton or bottle. Don’t take risks with spoiled juice.

What causes orange juice to spoil?

There are a few different factors that can lead to orange juice going bad quickly:

  • Bacteria – Bacteria naturally present on the orange skin or introduced during juicing can multiply in the juice over time. Yeasts and molds also grow.
  • Oxidation – Exposure to oxygen causes the natural chemicals in orange juice to break down.
  • Enzymes – Enzymes help spoil fruit juices by digesting components like pectin.
  • Light – Light accelerates the oxidation process and the breakdown of nutrients.
  • Warm temperatures – Heat speeds up the growth of microbes and chemical reactions.

To slow spoilage, store orange juice in the refrigerator and make sure bottles or cartons are sealed. Acidic orange juice can last 2-3 weeks refrigerated before quality starts to decline.

What happens if you drink bad orange juice?

Drinking spoiled orange juice puts you at risk for foodborne illness. Consuming bad orange juice can cause the following symptoms:

Mild Symptoms Severe Symptoms
– Upset stomach – Vomiting
– Abdominal cramps – Diarrhea
– Nausea – Fever
– Headache – Chills

These symptoms may appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours after ingesting contaminated orange juice. The severity can vary based on the type and amount of spoilage present.

Some dangerous pathogens like salmonella, E. coli, listeria, or norovirus could be lurking in sour orange juice. Consuming these bacteria can lead to food poisoning, which may require hospitalization in serious cases. Rotten orange juice also contains higher concentrations of organic acids like citric acid, which can irritate the digestive system.

How long do symptoms last?

If you have food poisoning from orange juice, the symptoms typically resolve on their own within a few days. Here’s a breakdown of how long symptoms commonly last:

  • Nausea – 1 to 2 days
  • Vomiting – 1 to 3 days
  • Diarrhea – 3 to 5 days
  • Abdominal cramps – 2 to 5 days
  • Headache – 2 to 3 days
  • Fever – 2 to 3 days

In healthy individuals, the body is usually able to fight off the infection within about 48 hours. Seek medical attention if vomiting, diarrhea, or fever lasts longer than this, as you may be dehydrated. The elderly, infants, and those with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of complications from foodborne illness.

Who is most at risk?

Anyone who drinks contaminated orange juice is at risk of getting sick. However, some groups have a higher chance of developing severe symptoms and complications:

  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic illnesses
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems

Newborns and infants have immature digestive and immune systems, making them more susceptible to harmful bacteria in spoiled juice. The very old and very young are most likely to become dehydrated from excessive vomiting and diarrhea.

Those with diseases like diabetes, cancer, HIV, kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders may struggle to fight off foodborne pathogens. Their illnesses can become exacerbated by dehydration and malnutrition.

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor if you experience any of the following after drinking bad orange juice:

  • Blood or mucus in vomit or stool
  • Diarrhea lasting over 3 days
  • Fever over 101°F
  • Persistent vomiting making you unable to keep liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration like dizziness, confusion, or rapid heart rate
  • Neurological symptoms like numbness, paralysis, or seizures

These symptoms could indicate a more serious illness and require prompt medical treatment. Severe dehydration from fluid loss can cause kidney problems, electrolyte abnormalities, and low blood pressure. Seek emergency care if dehydration is making you faint, confused, or have a rapid pulse.

How is food poisoning from orange juice treated?

Most cases of food poisoning from orange juice get better with home treatment:

  • Hydration – Drink plenty of water, electrolyte drinks, or broths.
  • Rest – Get extra sleep to help your body recover.
  • Medication – Take over-the-counter anti-diarrheals, antacids, or pain relievers if needed.
  • Bland diet – Eat easy-to-digest foods until symptoms resolve.

For severe dehydration or nutritional deficiencies, hospitalization may be required. IV fluids can replenish lost electrolytes and rehydrate the body. Medications like antiemetics, antidiarrheals, and antibiotics may be prescribed. Most people make a full recovery within a week.

Can you prevent food poisoning from orange juice?

You can reduce your risk of getting sick from contaminated orange juice by:

  • Only buying pasteurized juice or juicing your own oranges at home
  • Checking the expiration or use-by date on cartons
  • Storing juice in the refrigerator once opened
  • Inspecting juice for changes in appearance, smell, or taste
  • Discarding juice after 3-4 days
  • Washing your hands before juicing oranges
  • Cleaning juicers and containers thoroughly

Pasteurization kills dangerous pathogens in store-bought orange juice through heat treatment. Freshly squeezed juice has a shorter shelf life. Always discard orange juice if there are any signs it has spoiled, like mold, bitterness, or acidity.


Drinking bad orange juice can introduce harmful bacteria that cause unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. Severe food poisoning may require medical treatment for dehydration. To avoid getting sick, use caution when storing orange juice and toss out any expired, discolored, or foul-smelling juice. With proper precautions, you can safely enjoy orange juice and its many nutritional benefits.

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