If someone chooses to store raw animal meat in a refrigerator for consumption, it generally cannot be stored for very long before it becomes dangerous to eat. I'm not sure of the entire reason why, but I assume that bacteria growth is a large contributing factor.

What about vegetables?

A couple months ago, I purchased some fresh organic vegetables for a friend. When I visited her a month later, most of the vegetables were still untouched inside a bag in her refrigerator.

A few of the vegetables were extremely moldy and nasty, but most of them looked and smelled fine. So I composted the bad ones, and thoroughly washed the others off, and then cut them up to make a vegan stir fry.

It tasted good, but I wondered if it was really safe to be eating vegetables that old.

I only cooked half of the vegetables that day, and put the remaining cut up veggies in glass containers with air-tight lids.

After another two weeks, I visited her again. Yep, you guessed it, the cut up vegetables in the containers were still in her refrigerator.

So, naturally, I made another stir fry. It wasn't quite as good as the first one, but it tasted okay.

Again, I wondered if was safe to eat these old vegetables.

Are there any hazards involved in eating old vegetables? If so, what are they?

  • This isn't unique to vegans and vegetarians, and I think there is a canonical answer on Seasoned Advice which would result in it being closed as a duplicate if I migrated it. I'll go look...
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 12:40
  • Take a look at the "vegetables" part of cooking.stackexchange.com/a/21069/17272
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 12:41
  • This online resource lists shelf life and fridge life for a range of veggies: eatbydate.com/vegetables/fresh-vegetables
    – skippy619
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


As mentioned in comments, here's an unofficial, but comprehensive information about the shelf life of common vegetables and there's a well referenced answer on Cooking SE about the shelf life of a variety of foods.

Now, the question was about health hazards of eating old vegetables.

For "at home" purpose, there is a suggestion to "look, smell and test it." (Food Safety). The OP did that, but then, how exactly can you evaluate health hazards from it?

Erm, you can't, I mean, you can, but...It's a known thing that food that has been heavily contaminated by Salmonella and what not, can look and smell perfectly normal.

But then, it's not just about microbes. For example, fatty foods (butter, nuts...) can go rancid, which means oxidised (no microbes involved), and they may or may not cause you bowel problems.

Salads can become brown without being contaminated with microbes...it's just that food can chemically change/decompose with time and cause diarrhea if you eat it.

I would say, if it's suspicious to you (from circumstances), don't eat it even if it looks normal.


Eating dead things is always harmful. We should always try to eat fresh things because as soon as we pluck vegetables they start to decay.

  • 1
    I appreciate the revisions. Do you have any supporting evidence or studies that you could link to regarding this? In particular, the "always harmful" part.
    – Erica
    Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 21:57

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