What Happens When You Eat Bad Salsa?

Ah, nothing beats eating chips with fresh, homemade salsa.

Store-bought brands such as Tostitos and Herdez are both excellent choices when shopping down the aisle for a quick solution for the party you might be hosting tonight.

But just how long does salsa last? And just what happens when it goes bad?

Eating expired salsa can pose a risk of foodborne illness, especially if it shows signs of spoilage. Symptoms from consuming spoiled salsa may include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli can grow in expired products. Signs that salsa has gone bad include an off smell, change in color, or the presence of mold. It’s important to discard salsa that has exceeded its expiration date or exhibits any of these spoilage signs, to ensure food safety.

Here are some tips to avoid nausea-inducing symptoms such as food poisoning and gastric distress because of eating salsa that’s gone rotten!

Can You Get Sick from Eating Bad Salsa?

Unfortunately, there is a high probability of getting sick from bad salsa, as it could contain bacteria and viruses that cause gastric distress and poor gut health.

This is one of the important reasons why it’s so important to understand the how long salsa lasts, the expiration date or use-by date, and what the tips and tricks are in terms of storing it and preparing it so that the freshness is maintained.

Can You Get Botulism from Eating Bad Salsa?

Clostridium Botulism is a type of bacteria that is produced when jars or cans are not properly stored.

In most cases, this is the kind of bacteria that you consume when salsa turns rotten or becomes spoiled.

Some common signs to note whether botulism is lurking on your jars or cans are when the container is leaking, bulging, or swollen.

So be sure to toss out these goods. A good tip to always consider when in doubt, throw it out!

If you have ingested botulism via eating bad salsa, keep an eye out for the following physical symptoms:

  1. Double Vision
  2. Blurred Vision
  3. Drooping Eyelids
  4. Slurred Speech
  5. Difficulty Swallowing
  6. Dry Mouth
  7. Muscle Weakness

How Long Can Salsa Last?

Salsa lasts approximately one month after opening the lid and storing it in the fridge.

Although, there are varying opinions when it comes to this as others claim that it only lasts a weeklong.

In short, it’s important to pay attention to the expiration / buy-sell dates so that you can double check to make sure you’re serving the highest quality salsa.

A good tip when selecting salsa at the grocery store is to choose the salsa that has the longest expiration date.

Does Salsa Go Bad?

Salsa, when it is unsealed, can most definitely go bad! This is because it is the type of food that needs to be in its container to maintain its freshness.

But, once the sealed protection has been removed, it needs to be stored in a safe, cool space. Otherwise, there is the threat of it developing bacteria and viruses.

Store-Bought Salsa

Any store-bought salsa lasts longer than homemade salsa because of the many preservatives that are made with it in the factories they are produced at.

Store-Bought Salsa

Due to this, store-bought salsa lasts about 1-2 weeks after it’s been opened compared to homemade salsa that doesn’t last more than 7 days.

Unopened 2 Months


Freezer: 3-6 Months

12-18 Months (Typical Time It Lasts)
Opened 10-14 Days3-5 Days

Homemade Salsa

Homemade salsa goes bad quicker because of not having the number of preservatives that store-bought salsa has.

Generally speaking, homemade salsa lasts about 7-10 days.

And this is assuming that it is continuously refrigerated to maintain its freshness. Homemade salsa, after all, is usually made with fresh vegetables that are bought from the grocery store and thus have a quicker expiration date than anything with canned preservatives.

What Does Rotten Salsa Look Like?  

The moment you go back to that opened salsa sitting in the counter or the refrigerator, make sure that the salsa has kept up with its original appearance and odor to ensure it hasn’t gone bad.

It can be easy waking up in the morning or afternoon to grab the salsa that was left on the counter overnight, thinking it’s good but, has gone bad due to those pesky airborne particles. Some signs to keep out for include the following.

  1. Discoloration
  2. Off-putting smells
  3. Texture
  4. Taste


When it comes to discoloration, please note whether the salsa has darkened since first opening it.

This is the first clue to double-check and make sure that the salsa has not expired.

There will also be mold spots that appear on the salsa itself. These are normally brown or black that might gather in clumps or appear scattered at first, depending on how long the salsa has been exposed to those pesky airborne particles.

Off-Putting Smells

Anytime there are off-putting smells, such as the smell of vinegar, and it can smell rotten and fishy.

Salsa that has any off-putting smells such as these usually means it needs to be discarded because it’s become discolored.


Any salsa that has developed a slimy, mushy texture after passing the expiration date means that the salsa has become past its prime.

For example, the salsa would develop textures such as shriveled up tomatoes or mold spots that are bumpy and in clusters is most likely expired.


The first step is always smelled when you’re checking for freshness, but taste can be a clear indicator too, as rancid salsa normally starts tasting sour with a vinegar after-taste. When alongside texture, the taste is sour and mushy.

The tomatoes are not fresh and, on the tongue feel bumpier than usual because of the mold that has gathered on top.

Best-case scenario you’re biting into salsa that has not grown the mold just yet, but it has lost its flavor. Worst, you’re biting into a huge lump of mold.

Tips On Storing Salsa

You might have already guessed several types of tips on storing salsa, but to better go into detail:

(1) Pick a dark and cold night
(2) Use an airtight container
(3) Don’t Keep an Open Can.

Now, let’s go over in detail some of the steps on how to properly store salsa in a way that maintains its freshness and quality.

Refrigeration or a Nice and Dark Spot

Refrigerators are perfect for unsealed salsa because anything that’s been opened needs to be kept at a certain temperature. This is because there is a “danger zone” regarding the preparation of foods.

What does this mean? Any food that is exposed to degrees between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit has a higher chance of getting that exposure to the airborne particles.

Therefore, salsa needs to be sealed and properly stored. After all, salsa contains a lot of sugar and unfortunately bacteria and viruses love festering in sugar.

Regarding the storage of cold foods, they need to be kept in temperatures between 33 degrees and 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Airtight Containers

When purchasing jarred salsa at the store, you’ll notice that it’s tightly sealed, preventing its exposure to those airborne particles.

Why is jarring salsa so much better than canned salsa or other methods of storing it such as plastic?

Salsa in Jars

Glass jars keep their shape and rigidity over time. This type of storage does not have potential chemical agents such as plastic that could harm the quality of the salsa that’s being served to the public.

Throw Away Opened Cans

After opening a can of salsa, be sure to throw it away after it’s been sitting out for an hour or two as the likelihood of mold and spores growing on it increases each second, it’s sitting on the counter without a lid.

And while it’s preferable to use a glass jar instead of a plastic jar, it’s not the end of the world if a plastic jar is used instead to store the salsa if it’s sealed and stored in that cold space. Salsa can also be frozen as well, to maintain the freshness for even longer!

Which Salsa To Buy: Jarred, Canned, or Plastic?

Salsa is found in jars, sealed, and packaged for delivery to prevent the goods from being damaged. Companies will oftentimes use glass to ensure that the salsa is safe from chemical exposure due to damaged cans or plastic.

And should it be handled properly when shipped, is a lot safer than canned or plastic goods. Especially since Salsa is freshly made with cut tomatoes, onions, the like even if it’s packed with preservatives to increase the length of the salsa.

Final Considerations

In short, always check the expiration and use-by dates so that you’re getting the highest quality of salsa that you can!

Look for signs of discoloration, weird textures, and even taste if you find yourself biting into a moldy spoonful of salsa. When bad salsa is eaten, it can cause food poisoning and gastric distress.

This can severely affect your gut health if not prevented by ensuring that the salsa is stored properly and knowing the difference between store-bought and homemade salsa.

Something else to make sure when shopping for salsa is to always do research, as some studies suggest it lasts for a month whereas others claim it lasts for up to 2 weeks.

Regardless of the truth of this case, stay safe and never be afraid to check in with your local health practitioner if you start experiencing abnormal symptoms.

Leave a Comment