Short Answer: If you accidentally eat rancid cornmeal, you may feel sick and have digestive problems, because the rancid oil can irritate your gut and cause oxidative stress.
Cornmeal is dried, ground field corn (not the same type of sweet corn we eat off the cob) that ranges in texture from fine to medium to coarse.
Cornmeal has natural oil in it that acts as a preservative, but it can also turn rancid and give the cornmeal an off flavor.
If you accidentally eat rancid cornmeal, you may experience some digestive discomfort, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
This is because the rancid oil in the cornmeal can irritate your stomach and intestines.
Rancid oil can also contain harmful free radicals that can damage your cells and increase the risk of chronic diseases.
It is quite uncommon to eat rancid cornmeal, because most people can detect the bitter or sour taste and smell of spoiled cornmeal before consuming it.
You can prevent rancid cornmeal by storing it in a cool, dry, and dark place, preferably in an airtight container.
You can also refrigerate or freeze cornmeal to extend its shelf life.
If you do eat rancid cornmeal and feel sick, you can drink plenty of water to flush out your system and eat bland foods to settle your stomach.
You can also take over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms, such as antacids or anti-diarrheals.
If your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a day, you should consult a doctor.
Finally, remember, cornmeal is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can be used for many dishes, such as cornbread, muffins, polenta, and grits.
However, you should always check the freshness and quality of your cornmeal before using it, and discard it if it smells or tastes bad.