Fresh fruits and vegetables are a staple in healthy diets. But when they go bad, they can cause food poisoning. In fact, each year about 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the United States. While most of these cases aren’t severe, they can lead to stomach pains, diarrhea, and dehydration. Some cases even result in death.
It is important to know when produce has gone bad so you can avoid eating it. A good way to tell is by doing a sensory evaluation. You can do this by examining the appearance, texture, and smell of the vegetables.
Wilting and wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process of vegetables but it is important to note that they also indicate that the vegetable has spoiled. This is because wilting and wrinkles are an indication of loss of moisture. If you see that your veggies have rotten spots, it is best to discard them because rotted foods are a breeding ground for bacteria that can make you sick.
Another sign that your veggies have spoiled is when they start to lose their firm texture. This can be a result of wilting or it may be an indication that the veggies have started to ferment. You can try to revive a mushy or limp veggie by soaking it in water for 10 to 15 minutes.
You should also be aware that the appearance of mold on a vegetable is an indication that it has spoiled. Mold grows when the food is exposed to air, light, and heat for long periods of time. It can grow on both raw and cooked food. If you notice that a vegetable has a small amount of mold, it is safe to eat as the mold usually doesn’t spread beyond a tiny section of the vegetable.
Other signs that your veggies are spoiled include if they have a foul smell and if they are mushy or slimy. You can try to revive a discolored veggie by cutting off the affected area. However, it is recommended that you toss a veggie if it has dark brown or pink spots. Dark colored vegetables, such as leafy greens, naturally get brown and pink areas on their stems and it is normal for them to wilt.