What Happens If You Eat A Bad Onion? (Top Facts!) (2023)

Wondering “What happens if you eat a bad onion?

Have you ever experienced chopping some onions for your beef steak recipe and suddenly noticed you accidentally purchased a bad batch?

If you answered yes to both questions, then you’ll certainly find this guide useful.

Onions are a staple in many households, and they also happen to be one of the most commonly used vegetables.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or enjoy cooking meat dishes, onions are indeed a must-have ingredient for your kitchen.

And on top of that, they have so many health benefits;

They contain phytonutrients that may help prevent cancer and other diseases and of course even provide relief from allergies (especially hay fever), asthma, atherosclerosis.

Not only this, but onions can bring your dish to a whole other level too, thanks to all the flavor that’s packed in this tiny ingredient.

However, regardless of how amazing onions may be, we can’t help but think about what happens when we eat bad ones.

Well, you don’t have to think about that much longer because…

We’ve taken the time to answer all your questions and concerns!

(Pretty awesome right?)

Now without further ado,

Let’s start with…

Do Onions Go Bad?

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Before we start answering your question, you need to first understand onions and their chances of spoiling.

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It can be confusing to know if onions go bad especially when you’ve not personally dealt with one.

Many people claim that onions don’t go bad, while some don’t agree with this. However, to give you a better understanding, you need to know that:

Onions are one of the vegetables that hold high water content since it’s a vegetable that’s grown in the ground as opposed to on a vine.

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Moist vegetables contain water and are considered perishables because they can spoil more quickly than dry goods like whole grains or beans.

Generally speaking,

Onions do go bad and this happens because of the water content they contain.

This vegetable is 90% water and can become moldy when there is too much moisture because of excessive exposure to air or if they’ve been cut for a long time without being used immediately.

There are many ways to determine if an onion has gone bad and these are:

Mold spots on the Outer Layer

What Happens If You Eat A Bad Onion? (Top Facts!) (2)

Among the most common sign that the onion has gone bad is if it starts to grow mold on the outer layer.

This is an indication that this particular onion has been sitting around for a while and bacteria has set in, causing it to rot from within. Usually, this bacteria is from the soil that the onion was grown in.

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You can simply remove the layer in which you notice mold developing and place your onion inside your fridge if you don’t plan to use it any time soon.

However, if you see that molds are developing inside the onion already, it’s best to discard the onion as it is not safe for consumption.

Dark Brown Streaks

Onions are either white or purple. However, if you notice brown streaks on the outer layer of the onion that look like wood grain, it means that the onion is overripe and should be discarded.

Brown streaks happen when the moisture inside the onion has already turned to sugar and oxidized.

What Happens If You Eat A Bad Onion? (Top Facts!) (3)

Don’t worry though! There’s no need to throw away an entire onion just because of brown streaks.

You can usually peel the outer layer with the brown stains and have a good-quality, flavorful onion on your hands.

A Putrid Smell

We all know that onions have a strong smell that might be a bit annoying to some people.

However, if you start noticing a putrid smell coming from the onion, it means that it has gone bad and you should get rid of them immediately.

A putrid smell can form because of rotting or because the onion has been left out for too long.

The best thing to do would be to cut off the rotten part of the onion and try again.

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If this happens to your onions, don’t worry: there are some other ways you can use them in cooking before they go too far.

When all of these signs show up,

It’s best to know which ones to keep and which ones to discard because undesired things can happen when bad onions are consumed

And we’ll all talk about it in the next section

Which is….

What Happens If You Eat a Bad Onion

What Happens If You Eat A Bad Onion? (Top Facts!) (4)

Nothing’s worse than preparing your favorite cheesy baked onion only to realize that your onions in your pantry have already gone bad.

It’s too late to head to the grocery store and you need to have dinner ready in a few minutes.

You then wonder if eating bad onions is harmless…

Well, to address your concern, if you decide to eat bad onion, you’ll end up with some nasty side effects.

You may experience stomach discomfort and nausea, and you’ll most likely have an unpleasant taste in your mouth for the next couple of hours.

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And trust me, water won’t be able to wash that taste out!

Bad onions can also lead to bad breath, as bacteria will start producing hydrogen sulfide gas when it reacts with sugar found on destroyed cells inside the onion.


Eating bad onion can not only affect your health but also the outcome of your dish since bad onion will make your food smell and taste bad.

So if you don’t want your family members to start throwing up during dinner,

We recommend you discard any onions that are wilted, slimy, or have black spots on them because they may not be safe for consumption.

Luckily, there are ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen to your precious vegetables

And we are all going to discuss it

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But first, let’s have…

The New Learnings

It’s certainly a relief to know a thing or two about your everyday vegetable right?

You’re pretty much aware now that onions:

  • Go bad because of the high water content.
  • Have signs you need to look out for to determine if it’s bad.
  • Can give you unpleasant side effects when consumed.
  • Make your dish smell and taste bad.

With this learning, you can now ensure the safety of yourself and your family.

You won’t ever have to risk your lives eating a bad onion because you’ll know how to catch one before it makes its way to your dish!

Now that we’ve got that settled,

Let’s head on to…

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How to Properly Store Your Onions

What Happens If You Eat A Bad Onion? (Top Facts!) (5)

Just like any perishable goods, onions need proper storage to ensure they stay fresh for as long as possible.

If you don’t want to constantly end up with bad onions, proper storage must be strictly observed.

When it comes to storing, an onion’s mortal enemy is humidity, heat, and air exposure. These elements can highly affect onions and make them go bad much sooner.

When ignored, you’ll surely end up wasting both your vegetable and money!

In order to preserve the freshness of an onion,

It is highly recommended that you store them in a cool and well-ventilated area such as a pantry with low humidity levels.

If you don’t have either one of these places available, just use your cabinet since putting onions in a cool and dark place can also be just as effective.

You can also store it in the refrigerator, make sure to store it tight to a plastic bag or container so that your refrigerator won’t stink!

In addition, it is also a good idea to remove the outer layer of each onion since this part tends to be too moist and will make them go bad faster than if they were left on.

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Also, make sure you keep your onions away from light to avoid spoiling due to oxidation. If you fail to do so, environmental elements such as bacteria, fungi, and germs can start to grow on them.

Moreover, it can make your entire kitchen stink too!

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And we wouldn’t want that, won’t we?

Now that we’ve got it covered,

We can proceed with the next section which is…

How Long Do Cut Onions Last

It’s a common mistake for people to cut too much onion, perhaps even more than they could ever use.

If this has happened to you, then you’ve most probably wondered how long will those cut onions last.

To answer your question directly, cut onions could last up to one week and three months when placed in the fridge.
What Happens If You Eat A Bad Onion? (Top Facts!) (6)

So if you want to keep them for a longer time, just chop and store your onions in an airtight container and place it in your fridge.

This life hack is practiced by many people around the world and you can even dice your onions so you don’t take much time preparing them for a dish.

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After three months, they will start to go bad but that’s still way better than throwing them away right after cutting them!


We can’t deny the fact that we’ve learned so much in this section.

You now know how to properly store onions and how long cut onions would typically last.

With this learning, you’re sure to prolong the life of your precious vegetable so you get the most out of your money!

Before you try out all your new acquired learnings,

Let’s finally have the…

Last Words

Indeed, the onion is one of the best ingredients you can ever put in a dish.

It’s versatile and offers every user countless benefits, whether it’s health or even flavor.

In this article, you’ve finally learned

  • How to check if the onion is bad.
  • What happens when you eat bad onion.
  • The proper way to store onion

How long a cut onion lasts.

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And along with that learning, you can be confident with every dish you set out because…

Gone are the days of risking your health and wasting onions.

Be sure to keep this guide in mind so you can make the best out of those onions!


What happens if an onion is bad? ›

Spoiled onions may develop dark spots, which will eventually begin to grow mold. You'll also want to avoid onions that have started sprouting, as this indicates they're beginning to go bad. You can also feel your onions to check how fresh they are. Onions with soft or mushy spots are starting to go bad.

What are symptoms of eating bad onions? ›

Onions can be a source of food poisoning. In 2021, onions were recalled after causing a Salmonella outbreak affecting more than 1,000 individuals in the US. A Salmonella infection often occurs 12-72 hours after consumption, and is associated with stomach cramps and diarrhea.

What happens if you eat a moldy onion? ›

Onions that are mildly affected are safe to eat, as long as the onion is firm and the moldy area can be removed. Peel off the affected layers, cut an inch around the black portion, and wash the unaffected portion. However, people with an allergy to Aspergillus shouldn't eat them.

What does bad onion taste like? ›

What do rotten onions taste like? A rotten onion will be bitter, fibrous, and lacking in moisture and sweetness.

Can you get sick from eating onions? ›

CDC Food Safety Alert: Whole onions identified as the source of large ongoing Salmonella outbreak. Key Points: 652 people have been reported sick from 37 states, and 129 people have been hospitalized.

Can old onions upset your stomach? ›

Onions are hard to digest largely because they contain fructans, which are not absorbed well in the small intestine. In fact, as fructans ferment, they can cause a great deal of digestive distress in the form of bloating, gas and diarrhea.

How long does onion poisoning take? ›

Symptoms can start within 24 hours after eating onion, garlic or leeks but more commonly take a few days to appear. Symptoms may include: Vomiting. Diarrhoea.

What organs do onions affect? ›

May benefit heart health

Onions contain antioxidants and compounds that fight inflammation, decrease triglycerides, and reduce cholesterol levels — all of which may lower heart disease risk. Their potent anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce high blood pressure and protect against blood clots.

Is it OK to eat onion that has sprouted? ›

Yes, you can; there's nothing toxic or dangerous about using a sprouted onion. However, sprouting may result in a softer onion with a more bitter taste, which some people find less desirable (especially when eaten raw).

Is it OK to cut off moldy part of onion? ›

Rinse off small amounts of the black mold on the outer scales of the onion under cool, running tap water or cut off the affected layers. The unaffected part can be used.

Can you eat the good parts of a rotten onion? ›

As long as it does not have that intense rotting smell, you can safely remove the affected layers and continue to use the parts of the onion that are white.

Will eating mold hurt you? ›

Mold can produce toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These can cause disease and even death, depending on the amount consumed, the length of exposure and the age and health of the individual ( 11 ). Acute toxicity includes gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, as well as acute liver disease.

Why is my onion bleeding white? ›

What we think of as “layers” of an onion are actually leaves whose primary purpose is storage. So, slice an onion and you're slicing open cells and releasing the water, sugars and other substances they'd been storing. Sometimes you can actually see the cells' juices as a milky white liquid.

What does onion rot look like? ›

Depending on how far advanced the disease is, you may see a mat of fluffy white mould on the basal plate (where the roots sprout from), which will probably have tiny black growths like poppy seeds strewn across it. In severe cases, the bulb will have turned black and be totally rotten.

Why is my onion milky? ›

A milky onion is just a fresh onion releasing moisture when cut. Some onions are juicer than others so they release a milky looking liquid when you chop them.

Can salmonella get inside an onion? ›

How do onions get contaminated with salmonella? Produce can be contaminated with salmonella for a few different reasons. The farm that's growing the onions may have irrigation issues, according to DTE, which means the water can be contaminated by sewage water before its inadvertently is sprayed on the field.

Can cooked onions carry salmonella? ›

Cooking onions to 150 F will kill any potential salmonella, according to Dr. Stephen Amato, a food safety expert and the Director of Global Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance Programs at Northwestern University.

What are the symptoms of salmonella from onions? ›

Salmonella infections typically cause gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps, according to Dr. Stanley Deresinski, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care.

What do onions do to your stomach? ›

Improved Digestive Health

Onions contain a high amount of prebiotics and fiber. In the body, this helps improve gut health by aiding in digestion, strengthening the immune system, and lowering inflammation.

Do raw onions cause painful gas? ›

Additionally, some people are sensitive or intolerant to other compounds in onions, especially raw onions ( 15 ). Therefore, onions are a known cause of bloating and digestive discomfort. Cooking the onions may reduce these digestive effects.

How long does it take to see effects of poisoning? ›

How Soon Do Symptoms Start?
When Symptoms BeginSymptoms
Within 24 hoursWatery diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills
6 to 24 hoursDiarrhea, stomach cramps that last for less than 24 hours—vomiting and fever are not common
6 hours to 6 daysDiarrhea (can be bloody), fever, stomach cramps, vomiting
7 more rows
Dec 7, 2022

How long does it take to get food poison out of your system? ›

Most of the time, food poisoning passes within 12 to 48 hours. That's how long it takes for a healthy body to purge the infection. It may last longer if you have a weakened immune system, or if you have a parasite that needs to be treated with antiparasitic drugs.

How long does it take for the body to respond to food poisoning? ›

The symptoms of food poisoning usually begin within one to two days of eating contaminated food, although they may start at any point between a few hours and several weeks later. The main symptoms include: feeling sick (nausea)

Does onion affect the brain? ›

Benefits of onion for the brain:

It might have a brain-protective effect by helping in raising the brain's antioxidant levels.

Do onions affect the nervous system? ›

Onions also contain minerals and vitamins important to the health of your nervous system and play a role in supporting nerve cell function.

Who should not eat onions? ›

Eating lots of them can cause gastrointestinal distress for people with sensitive GI tracts or conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux, resulting in symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, Jones says. Even garlic and onion powder may cause these reactions.

What is the green thing growing out of my onion? ›

For onions, the sprout grows through the center of the bulb. The good news is the sprouts are safe to eat. They do have a tendency to taste a bit bitter, however.

How long can onions last before going bad? ›

How long do onions last? According to The Chef's Garden cookbook, onions stored at temperatures between 30°F and 50°F will keep for up to one year. Otherwise, they'll last for several weeks. Store cut onions in the refrigerator (or even the freezer)…

Can you eat green onion roots? ›

What Part of the Scallion Can You Eat? The entire scallion plant is edible, from its green stalks down to its white roots.

Is it OK to eat an onion that has sprouted? ›

Yes, you can; there's nothing toxic or dangerous about using a sprouted onion. However, sprouting may result in a softer onion with a more bitter taste, which some people find less desirable (especially when eaten raw).

Can you get salmonella poisoning from an onion? ›

Just recently More than 650 people were sickened by a salmonella outbreak linked to onions imported from Mexico, reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Across 37 states, 652 people have been reported sick, with 129 of them hospitalized. (Pietsch, 2021) How and what causes Salmonella poisoning?

Is onion salmonella killed by cooking? ›

Cooking onions to 150 F will kill any potential salmonella, according to Dr. Stephen Amato, a food safety expert and the Director of Global Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance Programs at Northwestern University.

What virus is coming from onion? ›

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Onions | CDC.

Which states have salmonella onions? ›

A farm that sells onions in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania has voluntarily recalled bags of its yellow, white, and red onions because of the risk of salmonella, according to the FDA. The bacteria kills hundreds of people in the U.S. every year.

What onions made people sick? ›

Which onions are linked to the salmonella outbreak? The impacted products include fresh whole red, white and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource Inc. They were distributed nationwide and sold to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the United States.

Can you get E coli from onions? ›

coli found on smuggled onions, not fit for consumption. The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said the smuggled onions intercepted by authorities were not fit for consumption after they were found with traces of bacteria.

Which onion has Listeria outbreak? ›

A&M Farms of Lyons, Georgia, is recalling whole Vidalia onions because of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recall comes after internal company testing detected Listeria on a single pack line. The onions were packed on the one-pack line between June 20-23, 2022.


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