Short Answer: If you accidentally eat bad olives, you might get food poisoning, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach ache. In rare cases, you might get botulism, which can cause blurred vision, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
Olives are small fruits that grow on olive trees (Olea europaea).
They belong to a group of fruit called drupes, or stone fruits, and are related to mangoes, cherries, peaches, almonds, and pistachios.
Olives are very high in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants.
They also contain various vitamins and minerals, such as iron, copper, calcium, and sodium.
Olives are usually cured or processed before consumption, as they are too bitter to eat fresh.
Olives can be cured in brine, oil, vinegar, or salt, and sometimes flavored with herbs, spices, or garlic.
If you accidentally eat bad olives, you might experience some unpleasant food poisoning symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach ache.
These symptoms usually last for a few hours and then subside.
However, in rare cases, you might contract botulism, a serious and potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
Botulism can cause blurred vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
Botulism can occur if olives are not properly preserved, packaged, or stored, especially if they are canned or vacuum-packed.
This is because olives contain oleuropein, a bitter compound that can act as a natural preservative and prevent the growth of harmful microbes.
Oleuropein can also have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and cardioprotective effects.
However, if olives are exposed to air, moisture, or heat, oleuropein can degrade and lose its protective properties.
This can allow the growth of spoilage bacteria, mold, or yeast, which can produce toxins or cause infections.
In particular, Clostridium botulinum can thrive in low-oxygen, high-moisture, and low-acid environments, such as improperly canned or vacuum-packed olives.
Clostridium botulinum can produce botulinum toxin, one of the most potent neurotoxins known to humans.
It is quite uncommon to eat bad olives, as most olives are commercially processed and packaged under strict quality and safety standards.
However, if you make your own olives at home, or buy them from unreliable sources, you might run the risk of eating spoiled or contaminated olives.
Therefore, you should always follow proper methods and guidelines for curing, preserving, and storing olives.
You can prevent or treat food poisoning from bad olives by following these steps:
Check the appearance, smell, and taste of olives before eating them.
If they look moldy, slimy, discolored, or swollen, or if they smell rancid, sour, or foul, or if they taste bitter, metallic, or off, do not eat them and discard them immediately.
If you suspect that you have eaten bad olives, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, and avoid solid foods until your symptoms improve.
You can also take over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, anti-diarrheals, or anti-emetics, to relieve your discomfort.
However, do not take antibiotics, as they are not effective against food poisoning and might worsen your condition.
If you develop severe or persistent symptoms, such as high fever, bloody stools, severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, or signs of botulism, seek medical attention immediately.
You might need hospitalization, intravenous fluids, or antitoxin treatment
To avoid accidental eating of bad olives, store them in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from heat and light sources.
If they are in brine, oil, or vinegar, keep them refrigerated and tightly covered after opening.
If they are canned or vacuum-packed, check the expiration date and the integrity of the package before opening.
Do not use olives that have been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, or that have been exposed to air, moisture, or contaminants.
Finally, remember, olives are a nutritious and delicious fruit that can enhance your diet and health.
However, they can also cause food poisoning or botulism if they are spoiled or contaminated.
Therefore, you should always handle, store, and consume olives with care and caution.