8 Foods And How To Identify If It Has Gone Bad

Food that has gone bad not only tastes bad but can also have serious health consequences if ingested due to all the toxins and microbial wastes found in it. Some spoilage like those in fruits are more obvious while others like dried, packaged foods can look fine outside even though they are unsafe and well past expiry date. Hence it becomes important to be able to identify it right away. 

There are 3 primary ways a food can get spoiled; biological ways by bacteria and moulds, chemical interactions of food constituents with oxygen and light, or due to excessive environmental stress like temperature. Everyday occurrences of these instances include inadequate ventilation, mixing perishable and non-perishable foods, improper freezing, browning from air exposure, and an increase in moisture content in dry foods. 

Apart from these, many intrinsic factors can also affect the tendency of food to get spoiled a little early. Take for example milk due to its higher moisture content over dry flour, a banana’s neutral pH level and high sugar content compared to acidic lemons, ground up meat over sliced meat, are all susceptible to early spoilage compared to the latter. 

To better prevent the spoilage of food, it is not only important to cover and store it properly in air-tight containers made of food grade plastic or glass, with adequate preservation techniques, but also practise hygienic methods of handling the food. This article will look at some of the visual, texture, odour, and taste signs to help you notice if your food has gone bad and decide whether it is time to throw it away. 

Fruits And Vegetables

Pick the fruit up and squeeze gently, if it gives in too easily it's probably spoiled. Vegetables also look soggy if they have gone bad. Cut fruits are particularly prone to spoilage when exposed to air and start smelling fermented and lose their vivid colouration. Cooked sabzi when gone stale can be identified by its slimy look and are far from being appetising.

Sweets and Cakes

These are the most vulnerable to moulds because of their high sugar content. Some sweets become gritty due to the crystallisation of sugar and others sticky due to exposure to unfavourable temperature, whereas cakes develop a distinctly visible mould over them. 

Grains And Lentils

Wheat flour has greater chances of being infected by rodents due to improper packaging and developing moulds because of being exposed to humidity rather than getting spoiled on its own. If any frozen pasta or noodles seem fused together after thawing you should give it a second thought. It may not necessarily have gone bad but its flavour would still be affected. Cooked dal tends to look gummy, and starts to thicken and ferment when it has gone stale.  

Meat, Poultry And Eggs

Smelling meat gives you the best clue to whether it has gone stale. If your raw meat has a putrid smell in addition to having a weird, lustrous, oozy look to it, then it's probably time to discard it. Bad eggs smell of sulphur and are known to float in water, besides when cooked their yolks tend to look grey. 


When milk tastes sour, looks yellow or smells really bad, it is said to have gone rancid. Spoiled milk may sometimes look normal, but on heating it, it tends to clump together. Another way to test is by pouring the milk onto baking soda, if your milk has gone sour, it will cause the soda to bubble. Another dairy product, paneer, to look for its freshness check if it is solid and firm instead of being runny, soft and crumbly. 


Fish can last anywhere between a few days to a couple of months depending on how it is stored and whether it is cooked. Basic rule- throw away any packaged fish that’s been sitting in the fridge for 2 days or frozen over 7 months. Whole fish that are not fresh have slimy mucus on their scales and their eyes are cloudy compared to the clear eyes of freshly caught ones. On cutting it, the blood vessels look brown instead of amber coloured. Also the flesh of fresh cut fish looks pink or white instead of grey. Cooked fish, particularly fried ones when gone bad, usually look dry and mouldy whereas expired fish curries simply give off a strong smell.  


Most spices unlike other foods do not go stale because by their nature they are antibacterial and antimicrobial. Give the spices a whiff, if they smell like nothing, toss them out. Powdered spices that are well past their expiration date lose their colour, aroma and flavour as well.  

Certain Processed Foods

Processed foods are made to last a long time but if your food packet is bulging abnormally or is oozing out its inner contents, it's time to throw it out. Look for any corrosion or rust in tin cans and holes in the packets because of which the inner contents may have been compromised. Chips exposed to air tend to quickly lose their crunchiness whereas canned items will have fizzles and bubbles when opened.