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What happens if you accidentally drank moldy juice?

Drinking moldy juice can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms and potentially serious health effects. Mold grows when sugary fruit juices are left at room temperature for too long, allowing microscopic mold spores floating in the air to land on the surface and multiply. Consuming moldy juice introduces these spores, along with toxic byproducts called mycotoxins, into your digestive system where they can wreak havoc.

Common Symptoms

If you accidentally ingest a small amount of juice containing mold, you may experience minor stomach upset. Drinking larger amounts can cause more significant gastrointestinal symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping

Some people may also develop symptoms affecting other parts of the body, such as:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing/sore throat if juice containing mold goes down the wrong pipe
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches

In most cases, symptoms start within 30 minutes to several hours after ingesting the moldy juice. Mild symptoms often resolve on their own within a day or two. Seek medical attention if you experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.

Serious Effects

While uncommon, drinking juice heavily contaminated with mold can cause severe reactions in some people. Groups at highest risk include:

  • Infants and children
  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems

Serious effects may include:

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea, leading to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances if left untreated
  • Fever, signaling an inflammatory response or infection
  • Hallucinations, due to toxic properties of certain molds like ergot
  • Organ damage like liver or kidney injury
  • Life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in those severely allergic to molds

Medical care should be sought immediately if symptoms are severe or progressively worsen over time after ingesting moldy juice.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Drinking moldy juice may trigger flare-ups or worsen symptoms of certain chronic medical conditions such as:

  • Asthma – Mold spores can trigger asthma attacks
  • Chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis or COPD
  • Sinusitis or allergies
  • Irritable bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • Immune deficiencies from conditions like HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy

Those with chronic illnesses should take extra care to avoid consuming moldy juice or foods containing mold. Prompt medical treatment is important if you already have a compromised immune system.

Long-Term Health Effects

Regularly consuming juice or other foods tainted with mold may cause lingering effects over time. Potential long-term health consequences include:

  • Mycotoxicosis – Illness caused by cumulative exposure to mycotoxins
  • Cancer – Some molds linked to cancer-causing toxins (e.g. aflatoxin)
  • Kidney or liver damage – From regular mycotoxin exposure
  • Reproductive issues – Certain mycotoxins are harmful to developing fetuses
  • Suppressed immune system – Increased susceptibility to infections

The extent of long-term effects depends on the amount and duration of exposure to the mold. Proper storage and handling of juice can prevent mold growth and health consequences.

Mold in Juice: Causes and Risk Factors

Understanding how mold develops can help you take steps to avoid consuming contaminated juice products. Some key factors that promote mold growth include:

  • Sugars and acids – Juices offer ideal growing conditions for mold.
  • Oxygen – Mold needs air to thrive.
  • Warm temperatures – Heat accelerates mold growth.
  • Time – Mold colonies expand exponentially over days/weeks.
  • Damaged packaging – Compromised containers increase mold risk.

To minimize the chances of mold developing, juice should be refrigerated and consumed within several days of opening. Acidic juices like orange or grapefruit have a slightly longer shelf life. However, mold can grow even in the fridge over time.

Identifying Mold in Juice

Here are some signs that may indicate juice has become contaminated with mold:

  • Visual mold – Fuzzy or discolored patches on surface
  • Textural changes – Increased viscosity or sliminess
  • Off tastes/smell – Unpleasant musty or bitter flavor
  • Gas bubbles – Carbon dioxide from mold metabolism
  • White sediment – Clumps of mold spores

If juice shows any of these signs, err on the side of caution and do not drink it. Remember, some molds cause little outward change. When in doubt, throw it out.

Treating Symptoms of Mold Exposure

Most minor symptoms can be treated at home with the following methods:

  • Drink fluids – Stay hydrated to prevent dehydration from vomiting/diarrhea
  • BRAT diet – Eat bland foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast
  • OTC antiemetics – Anti-nausea/vomiting medication like Pepto-Bismol
  • Rest – Get extra sleep to allow body to recover

Seek medical advice if nausea, diarrhea, or cramping lasts more than 48 hours or prevents fluid intake. Intravenous fluids may be needed for severe dehydration.

When to Seek Emergency Care

Contact emergency services or go to an ER right away if you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue or throat
  • Chest tightness, wheezing
  • Lightheadedness, palpitations, fainting
  • Severe vomiting/diarrhea with very weak pulse, low blood pressure
  • Altered mental status, seizures, hallucinations
  • Severe abdominal pain, bloody stool
  • High fever (over 102°F)
  • Signs of shock (pale, clammy, faint, rapid heart rate)

These may indicate a life-threatening allergic reaction, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, or toxin-related emergency requiring intensive treatment.

Preventing Mold Exposure from Juice

You can take the following steps to keep juice free of mold and avoid adverse health effects:

  • Refrigerate juice after opening and finish within 5-7 days
  • Check expiration/use by dates and avoid expired juice
  • Inspect juice before drinking – do not consume if mold is visible
  • Clean lids/spouts thoroughly before pouring from containers
  • Keep juice storage areas and fridges clean to limit mold spores
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure and rapid temperature changes
  • Do not store juice for long periods, even if refrigerated
  • Purchase small single-serve bottles or packages when possible

Adhering to safe food handling and storage methods goes a long way in preventing mold growth. When mold does occur, promptly discard the juice to avoid potential health risks.


Drinking juice contaminated with mold can lead to unpleasant illness in the short-term and serious health consequences if exposure occurs regularly or in those vulnerable to mycotoxins. While most symptoms are temporary, severe allergic reactions, infections, and organ damage are possible. Examine juice carefully before consuming and be alert to any signs of mold growth like visible fuzz, foul smell, or unpleasant taste. Keep juice refrigerated and drink within a week of opening. Seek prompt medical attention for concerning symptoms after ingesting moldy juice. With proper handling and hygiene, moldy juice can be avoided to reduce the chances of adverse health effects.

Type of Symptom Specific Symptoms
Gastrointestinal Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
Systemic Headache, dizziness, fatigue, muscle aches, cough/sore throat
Severe Reactions Dehydration, fever, hallucinations, organ damage, anaphylaxis, shock
Chronic Diseases Asthma attacks, IBD flares, chronic sinusitis
Long-Term Effects Mycotoxicosis, cancer, organ damage, reproductive issues, immunosuppression

This table summarizes the various types of symptoms and effects that can occur from ingesting juice contaminated with mold. The symptoms range from mild stomach upset to life-threatening allergic reactions. Long-term exposure may also lead to chronic diseases and organ damage.