Drinking spoiled apple juice can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms and health effects. Although apple juice that has gone bad is generally not life-threatening if consumed, it’s best to avoid it and stick to fresh juices whenever possible.
How Apple Juice Spoils
Apple juice is made by pressing apples to extract the liquid. This liquid contains water, naturally occurring sugars like fructose and glucose, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When fresh, apple juice provides hydration and nutrients.
However, apple juice can spoil over time when exposed to oxygen, light, heat, and bacteria. The main reasons apple juice spoils are:
- Growth of mold and bacteria – bacteria feed on the sugars and nutrients in the juice, growing in number. This causes fermentation that changes the smell, taste, and appearance of the juice.
- Oxidation – when oxygen in the air interacts with the juice, it causes chemical changes that degrade color, flavor, and nutrients.
- Separation – juice components like flavor compounds, pulp, and water can separate during storage, resulting in an unappetizing consistency.
- Growth of yeasts – yeasts are microorganisms that can grow in sugary environments like fruit juice and cause fermentation.
Signs that apple juice has spoiled include cloudiness, separation, off smells, fizzing, mold, changes in color, and unpleasant sour taste. If you notice any of these characteristics in apple juice, it’s best not to drink it.
What Happens if You Drink Spoiled Apple Juice?
Drinking apple juice after it has started to ferment or grow mold can lead to a variety of temporary but unpleasant symptoms:
- Digestive issues – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and intestinal discomfort are common results of consuming spoiled apple juice. The bacteria and yeasts produce compounds that irritate the digestive system.
- Food poisoning – Foodborne pathogens like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria can grow in spoiled apple juice, causing more severe vomiting and diarrhea. However, this is less common with pasteurized, commercially sold juices.
- Unpleasant taste – Spoiled apple juice tastes very sour, bitter, or unpleasantly fizzy due to fermentation and chemical changes during spoilage.
- Bad breath and body odor – The pungent compounds produced by bacteria and yeasts as apple juice spoils can cause bad breath and sweat/skin odor after drinking it.
- Toxicity – In rare cases, toxins produced by certain molds like patulin in rotting apples can cause toxicity. However, this is very unlikely at levels seen in spoiled juice.
For most people, drinking a small amount of spoiled apple juice will result in temporary stomach upset. The symptoms typically clear up in a few hours to a day. However, those with compromised immune systems should avoid spoiled apple juice entirely, as foodborne pathogens can cause more dangerous illness.
Factors Affecting Risk and Severity
Several factors influence how likely you are to get sick from drinking bad apple juice, and how severe the symptoms might be:
- Amount consumed – Drinking a small sip of spoiled juice is less risky than drinking an entire glass.
- Individual susceptibility – Those with weaker immune systems like young children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to foodborne pathogens.
- Type of spoilage – Juice with fermentation has lower risks than juice contaminated with toxic mold.
- Presence of pathogens – Unpasteurized juice or juice stored in unhygienic conditions has higher risks.
- Freshness – Juice that has just started to spoil has lower pathogen levels than juice spoiled for a long time.
In most healthy adults, drinking a small amount of spoiled pasteurized apple juice bought from the store will result in minimal symptoms that pass quickly. But larger volumes pose higher risks, especially for vulnerable groups.
Signs of Foodborne Illness
In some cases, spoiled apple juice can contain dangerous pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, or listeria. This can lead to foodborne illness. Symptoms usually appear 8-72 hours after drinking contaminated juice. Here are the signs of foodborne illness versus standard food spoilage:
|Foodborne Illness||Regular Food Spoilage|
|– Fever over 101°F (38°C)||– No fever|
|– Severe diarrhea lasting over 1 day||– Mild diarrhea lasting under 24 hours|
|– Blood or pus in stool||– No blood or pus in stool|
|– Vomiting lasting over 6 hours||– Vomiting lasting under 6 hours|
|– Signs of dehydration like dizziness, increased heart rate||– No signs of dehydration|
|– Muscle aches, joint pain, stiff neck||– No muscle aches or pains|
|– Severe abdominal cramping||– Mild/moderate abdominal cramps|
If your symptoms are severe or last longer than 1-2 days, see a doctor as you may have a foodborne illness that requires treatment. Otherwise, drink plenty of fluids and rest to recover from milder food spoilage.
How to Avoid Getting Sick
You can take the following precautions to avoid getting sick from drinking spoiled apple juice:
- Check expiration dates – Don’t drink juice past its expiration or sell-by date.
- Store properly – Keep juice refrigerated after opening. Throw away after 7-10 days.
- Check for signs of spoilage – Look for changes in smell, consistency, bubbles, color, etc.
- Avoid unpasteurized juice – Go for pasteurized juice instead, which is heated to kill pathogens.
- Wash containers – Clean juice bottles and lids thoroughly before opening.
- Use clean utensils – Pour juice into a clean glass, not directly from the container.
Being attentive to expiration dates, proper storage, and signs of spoilage can help you avoid consuming bad apple juice. Pasteurized, refrigerated juice in sealed containers is your safest choice.
What to Do if You Drink Spoiled Apple Juice
If you accidentally drink apple juice that you suspect has spoiled, follow these steps:
- Stop drinking it immediately to limit your exposure.
- Rinse your mouth out with clean water.
- If you feel sick, drink plenty of fluids like water, diluted juice, or oral rehydration beverages.
- Get rest and eat gentle, bland foods like saltine crackers, broth, apple sauce.
- Monitor yourself for severe symptoms like bloody stool, vomiting for over 6 hours, high fever, or signs of dehydration.
- Call your doctor if severe symptoms develop or if milder symptoms last over 1-2 days.
- Take over-the-counter anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medications if needed for moderate discomfort.
Most cases of accidentally ingesting spoiled apple juice don’t require medical treatment. But call your doctor if you have concerns about symptoms, especially if you have a weakened immune system or existing health conditions.
Can Spoiled Apple Juice Kill You?
In nearly all cases, drinking spoiled apple juice does not cause life-threatening illness or death in otherwise healthy people. However, there are some very rare exceptions:
- Severe dehydration – Vomiting and diarrhea from toxins in bad apple juice can theoretically lead to dangerous dehydration without fluid intake. But this is extremely uncommon.
- Toxins – Mold toxins like patulin have low risks of acute toxicity. Mycotoxins rarely appear in juices at lethal levels.
- Vulnerable individuals – Immunocompromised people, the very old and young, or those with chronic illnesses could potentially get severely ill and die from pathogens in juice. But this is rare.
Healthy adults and children can get sick from drinking spoiled apple juice, but will recover with rest and fluids. Fatal outcomes are nearly unheard of. However, vulnerable groups should still avoid bad juice due to higher risks of severe illness.
Are there any lasting effects from drinking spoiled apple juice on occasion? Here are some potential long-term consequences:
- Lingering gastrointestinal issues if the juice contained toxic mold or caused infection
- Food aversions if you get severely ill and associate that food with nausea
- Dehydration effects like dizziness, fatigue, dry skin, or constipation if the illness caused significant fluid loss
- Weight loss from digestive upset interfering with nutrition
- Increased caution about food storage and handling to avoid repeats
Most people make a full recovery within a week of drinking bad juice and have no complications. Proper hydration and nutrition during and after illness can prevent lingering effects. See a doctor if you have ongoing diarrhea, nausea, or fatigue.
How to Tell if Apple Juice is Safe to Drink
Here are some tips for evaluating if apple juice is still safe and fresh to drink:
- Check “best by” date – Unopened pasteurized juice can be safely consumed for 7-10 days past its date.
- Smell – Fresh juice smells sweet and appley. Off or vinegary odors signify spoilage.
- Look at color – Apple juice should be a clear, pale gold. Dark yellow, brown, or gray hues indicate spoilage.
- Check consistency – Juice shouldn’t be thick like syrup or have stringy bits. Cloudiness or layer separation means spoilage.
- Taste a sip – Fresh juice tastes sweet and slightly tart. Fermented or bitter taste means it’s gone off.
- No bubbles – Bubbles or hissing from carbonation when you open it can indicate microbial fermentation.
- Store properly – Refrigerate opened juice and throw out after 7-10 days. Don’t leave it sitting out.
Trust your senses – if the juice smells, looks or tastes unpleasant, err on the side of caution and throw it out. When in doubt, stick to a new bottle or jug of apple juice.
Drinking apple juice that has spoiled typically causes temporary digestive upset but is not life-threatening for most healthy people. To keep apple juice fresh and avoid getting sick, store it properly, check expiration dates, inspect its appearance and smell before drinking, and discard juice that seems “off.” While drinking bad apple juice isn’t fun, being aware of the risks and using caution can help prevent serious outcomes.