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Q: food poisoning from eating old oranges? ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: food poisoning from eating old oranges?
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: upscale-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 08 Mar 2004 12:40 PST
Expires: 07 Apr 2004 13:40 PDT
Question ID: 314637
I ate some tangerines (errr... little oranges) the other day after
they'd been sitting in my car's trunk for 72 hours. That was around
5pm. Then around 8pm, I ate dinner. Then, at 9pm, I got horribly ill
for about 5 hours. I was light headed. My stomach had horrible cramps
and burned. My throat burned. My lips burned a little at first, and
for a while I had the weird sensation that something was stuck to the
back of my throat. I was only slightly nauseated. When I woke up in
the morning, I was still a bit queasy, and my stomach has been a bit
more edgy in the few days since then, but I'm basically fine.

Since all I had for dinner was noodles and a salad, with no unusual
ingredients, I'm trying to figure out whether eating stale oranges
could give me food poisoning symptoms like what I described above.
(The other reason why I don't think it was the dinner that made me
sick is that one of my friends I went to dinner with ate the exact
same things as me and was fine.) The oranges looked fine, but they did
smell a little "sharp". Do you think they could've made me sick like

Request for Question Clarification by revbrenda1st-ga on 08 Mar 2004 13:23 PST
Hi, upscale,

Can you tell me what the weather was like in your location at the time
the tangerines were stored in your car's trunk? Are we talking about
hot weather where the fruit would be exposed to steady high
temperatures or, perhaps, warmer days and colder nights where the
fruit could freeze and thaw and freeze and thaw again?


Clarification of Question by upscale-ga on 08 Mar 2004 22:23 PST
The weather was cool. Never above the mid 70s.
Subject: Re: food poisoning from eating old oranges?
Answered By: revbrenda1st-ga on 09 Mar 2004 13:14 PST
Hi, upscale,

I've Googled around WWW and found some interesting facts about oranges
and food in general when it comes to food poisoning. I asked about
your local temperature since extreme heat could have accelerated the
time in which your  tangerines would stay safe to eat. This website
shows you the preferred temperature for proper storage of oranges et
"Store them at 12 degrees Celcius (=57o F) or if you like in the refrigerator."
Citrus Fruit - All About The Citrus Fruits - The Fruit Pages

Here's a fact I didn't know. "Oranges do not ripen after they are
picked, but lemons do." So, logically, they can't get overripe and
spoil for that reason.
Cooking Tips: Citrus Fruit

Storage time for citrus fruit is listed here:
"Storage: May be stored at room temperature for one week or in
refrigerator (uncovered) two to three weeks."
Monthly Market Basket: Citrus Fruits

It would seem unlikely that the fruit of your tangerines by itself
could cause food poisoning. However, this website also provides a
warning and storage times for a wide variety of fruits. "Don't fool
around with the following foods. They spoil quickly and pose the
greatest threat in your kitchen. Stick to these dates, and you won't
have to worry about these ticking time bombs."
"Hardier edibles, including: apples, cabbage, coconuts, artichokes,
carrots, oranges... 2 weeks"
When Good Foods Go Bad

This website offers some disturbing information about the state of
food inspection in the U.S. "Although much of the fear surrounding
food safety focuses on meat and poultry, especially beef, the General
Accounting Office estimates that 85 percent of food poisoning comes
from the fruits, vegetables, seafood and cheeses that are regulated by
the F.D.A. and claim a larger share of the American diet each year.
And poisoning from such foods can be every bit as deadly as that from
meat and poultry. Still, the F.D.A. has less than a tenth of the
inspectors of the Department of Agriculture, which regulates the meat
and poultry industry."
Contaminated Food Makes Millions Ill Despite Advances

Here's another. "Does washing fresh produce eliminate pesticide
residues from food? Washing fresh produce before eating is a healthful
habit. You can reduce and often eliminate residues if they are present
on fresh fruits and vegetables by following these simple tips: Wash
produce with large amounts of cold or warm tap water, and scrub with a
brush when appropriate; do not use soap."
Food Poisoning

And another. "About two to four percent of reported outbreaks of
food-borne illnesses are attributed to fresh fruits and vegetables... 
For smooth-skinned fruits and vegetables, such as apples, Harris found
that rubbing the fruit under running water for five seconds and drying
with a clean paper towel can reduce the number of microbes 1,000-fold.
This method works with a wide variety of produce, such as oranges,
honeydew melons and tomatoes."
UC Davis Scientist Says Irradiation Can Prevent Listeria Food ...


Now to another possibility. Apparently some people have a problem, not
with specific foods, but with certain combinations of food. This
webpage explains clearly what can happen when our bodies release
digestive enzymes.
"What all this tends to mean is that people who say they cannot eat
oranges or grapefruit as it gives them gas, could be blaming the
fruit, when the problem may lie with the escape of starches and the
bodies release of pancreatic juice and intestinal enzymes to break
them down."
Food Combining

And now, to your question. "Do you think they could've made me sick like
that?" I'm not a member of any medical community and so I base my
comments solely upon years of personal observation as a mother,
grandmother and restaurateur.

I think that if you ate an identical meal with your friend and s/he
was fine, you can rule out the meal as the source of your distress.

I think possibly the food combining page might be a possible answer
although the time frame you've given is larger than what is described
in the article. Of course it would depend upon whether you ate a
couple of tangerines or a dozen!

I think the tangerines, combined with the three days in your trunk at
above the recommended storage temperature and the good chance that
they should have been washed before you consumed them, could be the
cause of your subsequent illness.

You'll need to read each of the articles I've referenced above to
correlate all the information I've found. I hope this suits your

I wish you well,

Search strategy:
citrus fruit

old oranges food poisoning

oranges food poisoning
Subject: Re: food poisoning from eating old oranges?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 08 Mar 2004 17:10 PST
"Bacteria grow best in low-acid foods (meat, fish, poultry, milk,
eggs, and cooked vegetables). Acid foods (fruits, tomatoes, and
pickles) seldom cause food poisoning."
Subject: Re: food poisoning from eating old oranges?
From: probonopublico-ga on 08 Mar 2004 22:49 PST
In my very limited experience (having had food poisoning once for
sure) but having heard tales from other people, it often seems very
difficult to pin down a source with any certainty, although it is
comforting to have a prime suspect.

Hope that you have got over your discomfort.

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