Pineapples have enjoyed a loyal following for centuries thanks to their tastiness as a stand-alone snack or as an ingredient in more elaborate recipes. Moreover, the fruit's juices are rich with nutrients and vitamins that have abundant health benefits, like aiding in digestion, fighting colds, suppressing coughs and reducing inflammation. Conversely, a spoiled pineapple can have nasty effects on your well-being, so knowing how to properly identify one is important.
Examine the crown first. While healthy pineapples -- both ripe and unripe -- boast green leaves that are vibrant and strong, the leaves on bad ones will be brown, fragile and dying. Similarly, the body will have lost the appetizing golden hue it achieves at maturity in favor of a brownish, dried-out appearance. The bottom will no longer be firm, but rather soft and wet. Smelling the pineapple is also a credible way to detect rot. As the sugars begin to ferment, the stinging odor of vinegar will slowly replace the otherwise fresh, fruity aroma that characterizes a ripened pineapple. The inside will start to turn dark, and the vinegary taste will become overwhelming.
Freshness and longevity begin at the farm. Like most perishables, pineapples will decay much faster if they are not stored properly. Warehouses or trucks that are warm, humid and squalid are poor storage environments that may lead to rapid spoilage. Furthermore, if the inside of the pineapple becomes exposed, it will decay in as little as a day or two unless refrigerated. Poor storage at home has the same effect. Additional causes of premature spoilage include farms using irrigation water tainted with fecal matter and the use of dirty, grimy knives for cutting.
Someone who has eaten spoiled pineapple may find signs of illness revealing themselves in various ways. Pineapples stored or handled in dirty, unsafe conditions can breed E coli bacteria that lead to upset stomach, diarrhea, chills or even a fever. Shingella outbreaks are also known to occur, characterized by vomiting, nausea and bloody bowel movements. In addition, dirty water used to irrigate or rinse the fruit may contain salmonella, which causes extreme dehydration and abdominal cramps to manifest within 12 hours of ingestion.
Cooler conditions, such as a refrigerator, are optimal for storing pineapple, although not required until the fruit is cut. Once the inside is exposed, however, it must be sealed in an air-tight container right away and refrigerated, or it will decay quickly. Extra-long storage, whether cut or uncut, requires canning or freezing. Canned pineapple, once opened, is good for about a week in the fridge; frozen pineapple, once thawed, has a similar shelf life. For added safety, be sure to rinse freshly sliced pineapple in clean, running water prior to consuming it.