Expired foods, can we eat them anyway?

Hello my dear readers,

First of all, I want to thank you all for your kind words and support. I’m really grateful that you all enjoy this journey along with me. It keeps me motivated and willing to keep going, trying to accommodate my work and blogging at the same time.

Thank you!

So here I am with another post.

How many times have we eaten foods that have expired just a few days back, thinking there were no risks? 

To avoid waste, try to organize your groceries so that the foods do not reach the expiration date.

Or how many times happened to open the package of an expired food, to check if it was smelly and decide whether to consume it or not?

Often, in order not to throw food away, we make little conscious choices and, in some cases, a little too rash. When it comes to expiration date, however, attention and caution are needed because eating expired foods is a risk to our health that should never be underestimated. 

Below you will find all the useful tips to avoid waste and protect your health.


What does “to be consumed preferably” mean

Even if they seem the same, they are not, there is a substantial difference between the two below terms. It is therefore good to always distinguish between the two types of food, following simple rules.

To be consumed before: Indicates a date after which the product is no longer suitable for consumption: by that date, if properly stored, it retains all its characteristics. After this date the product can be harmful to health due to the proliferation of bacteria, resulting in food poisoning determined by the direct action of pathogenic bacteria together with the food or due to the presence of toxins produced by pathogens.

In general the most common food poisonings are Salmonella, Clostridium perfrigens and Bacillus cereus. The most frequent intoxications are botulism and Staphylococcus aureus intoxications.

Best before: In this case, the minimum storage term indicates the date by which the product, always if properly stored, maintains its specific properties. We speak of organoleptic and nutritional quality, therefore of satisfaction and quality of the product rather than its safety. This food can be eaten for a few days after the expiration date, but it is not guaranteed that its nutritional properties will remain intact. Only salt, sugar, vinegar, alcoholic beverages are exceptions.

Thus it happens that yogurt can also be consumed ten to fifteen days after its expiration, while extra virgin olive oil and pasta remain well maintained even up to six months later. Instead, it is preferable to consume eggs no later than one week from the expiry date.


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Eating expired foods: how the validity system works

Don’t buy more than you need and plan your meals so that everything you have in your pantry is consumed in time.

If you ate expired foods and nothing happened to you, you were lucky.

The expiry date, in fact, is calculated according to a precautionary principle to limit the risks as much as possible, since it is not possible to accurately predict the speed of bacterial proliferation and therefore when the food can become dangerous.

This means that it is likely that a product, just one day after its expiry, will not be harmful: in order not to take unnecessary risks, it is always good to strictly adhere to the date indicated and throw the food away after the expiry date.


Eating expired foods, the consequences on your body

It’s all a matter of luck. If you eat expired foods, absolutely nothing could happen to you, just as you could get food poisoning.

The state of malaise could only resolve itself with a stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhea, but something more serious could also happen than having to spend a few hours in the bathroom. In the most severe cases these intoxications or toxic infections can cause damage to organs, even more or less permanent.

Many think that the best way to recognize expired foods is to smell them: nothing could be more false! 

Most bacteria do not smell, so smelling a food is not a good way to tell if you can still eat after it expires, because toxins have no smell. 

A food can already be harmful to your health long before it smells or tastes abnormal, when this happens bacterial growth is already terribly advanced.


Foods most at risk after expiry

There are foods that, when consumed after the expiration date, are more at risk than others. 

Fresh cheeses, meat, fish, milk and eggs deteriorate more quickly due to proteins of animal origin.

Milk, in particular, is a perfect breeding ground for pathogens, and the risk of adverse effects on your health is high. This risk increases greatly if you consume raw milk, which is not pasteurized to keep its nutritional properties intact. Raw milk can only be kept for 1 or 2 days in the fridge: if boiled shortly after purchase, it can last for 4 or 5 days.


How to store food once opened

Once the package is opened, the stated expiration date loses its value. Often on the same label the methods and storage times after opening are indicated, but this information is not mandatory by law. 

In general, open foods should always be kept in the refrigerator and eaten “within a short time”. 

For example, unpackaged chicken can stay in the refrigerator 1-2 days if raw and 3-4 days if cooked. Fresh meat 3-5 days, minced meat 1-2 days, cold cuts 3-5 days.

In any case, it is good to check that the temperature of the fridge is adequate. Remember that the ideal is to always keep it between 1.5 and 3.5 degrees Celsius, increasing the temperature when it is fuller and decreasing it as you consume the food. The growth of bacteria, in fact, begins to triple around 4.5 degrees, while at 0 degrees, the freezing process begins which, if not carried out properly, risks ruining the nutritional properties of food.


Frozen foods: what to do

The cold slows down, but does not stop bacterial proliferation, so a food, even if stored in the freezer, does not have an infinite life.

As for frozen foods, it is important to respect the expiry date. For frozen foods, that are those foods that you buy fresh and put in the freezer, storage times are longer. 

However, it is important to consume them quickly to avoid risks.

When you want to freeze a food, you must do it within 1-2 days of purchase at the latest. Keeping meat in the fridge and then freezing it when it has almost gone bad is a very serious mistake.

If, in fact, you put in the freezer a food that already has a high bacterial load from the start, this will reach “dangerous” values long before the time indicated on the label.


Foods with no expiration date: the rules to follow

This category includes products such as sugar, salt, vinegar, wine, pepper, chilli. Even if they are foods that “don’t expire”, it is important to pay attention to their conservation. Oxygen, light and temperature are harmful to all products. It is good to protect any food from these three agents by storing them in cool, dry and possibly dark places.

When can we still eat a food, even if it has passed the expiration date indicated on the label? 

There are a whole series of products for which the law does not require to indicate the minimum conservation term. In particular, these are:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Beverages with an alcohol content of 10 percent or more by volume
  • Wines, liqueur wines, sparkling wines, aromatised wines and similar products
  • Vinegar
  • Cooking salt
  • Solid state sugars

The best way to avoid eating expired food, avoid any food poisonings or intoxication and avoid food waste is to not overbuy.

These products can therefore be consumed even long after their expiry. The important thing is to check that the product has been stored properly. 

For example, olive oil is damaged if exposed to light and excessive heat sources. 

Furthermore, to understand if a particular food is still edible or not, it is always good to check its consistency.

Don’t buy 2 chickens if you know you only eat one.

Don’t buy 1 kg of mozzarella if you know you can only eat 100 g.


Unfortunately the food waste is a big issue in our world. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations there is a total food wastage of 1.3 billion tonnes every year.

While some people waste their food, on the other side, world hunger has slowly but steadily increased in recent years. In 2018, approximately 820 million people worldwide were undernourished, up from 785 million people four years ago.

It is never too late to start doing your part.

Please be responsible and think twice before wasting any food!

Bye bye for now!

Wish you a lovely weekend!

Happy Blogging!

Popsicle Society
Popsicle Society

I love traveling, cooking and enjoying this beautiful world. 
I’m a life lover! Simple as that!

Photos credit: Pixabay edited by Popsicle Society

ALERT!

Have you noticed that I’ve changed my blog theme?
It is still work in progress but I would love to know what you think about it? 😉

119 thoughts

  1. Great post! I think most dairy products are risky to get into after their best before date – especially since bad weather can sometimes accelerate their going bad.
    Hoping everyone will come together to reduce wastage in our life and be more sustainable in our ways.

    1. Thank you very much! Yes diary products are risky and even if a yogurt for example can still be pleasant to eat after its expiry date we never know what effects can have on our body 🤪 Better be careful and always buy only what we need! 😉
      Have a wonderful weekend 🌸

  2. Your minimalistic style theme looks great Ribby! <3

    Wow, this post both educated and scared me. I was nodding here and there for parts that I know about, but I can't help but gasp at the food poisoning parts. The names I've never paid much attention before and after searching, I think I need to make a major check of everything on the shelf tomorrow. I think I've just place my family at risk. None of the two had reacted, but I'm the most sensitive in our family and I've have the symptoms way too many times this year, twice this month. It was so bad I felt like I was being tear from the inside while running to the bathroom and continuously ache. I'm seriously inviting the death to watch over me. Damn it. I'm scared. 😰 But at least now I know what to focus on when I wake up tomorrow (or later… ehem)

    Have a wonderful Weekend dear Ribby! 🤗

    1. Thank you very much dear Jess 🤗 I’m glad you like it! 🤗 I always loved minimalistic style and I find this theme quite chic 😉
      True, I never pay much attention to names either but these are unfortunately the negative effects that expired food can have on our body.
      Every body is different and reacts differently to food poisoning but always better be careful and avoid them as we never know…a food poisoning can be very nasty 🤢 and can take quite a few days to feel better. Last time it took me more than 2 weeks to get better 😥 luckily was more than 2 years ago and from then I’m always very careful 🤪
      I hope you’re feeling better and better check your pantry and make sure you don’t have any nasty surprises 😉🌸
      Have a wonderful weekend dear Jess 🌸🎀💕🤗

      1. Be careful dear Jess! Better double check before eating anything 😉
        Hope you’re feeing good and you had a lovely weekend! Monday is here already 🥺 Have a wonderful week 🤗🌸🎀

      2. I’m fine dear Ribby. Been more clever to manage my time lately and even blog and read more. Sorry to hear about your situation though… hopefully you get that vacation soon 🙂🤗🤗

      3. I’m glad 😀 Time management is crucial and when you manage to do it, you really can accomplish lots of things 😉
        I’m trying my best to do it too but sometimes office work is draining al my energy and nothing is left for blogging 🤪
        But I’ll get on track 😉
        Have a lovely day dear Jess 🌸🎀🤗💕

  3. This is such a wonderful article on an aspect which is so common in our lives, yet so many of us neglect.
    I often have some arguments at home, when I see some existing foodstuff in the fridge going waste.
    I am against wastage, but sometimes wastage does happens.
    We generally try to eat food before the expiry dates.
    Sometimes, we eat breads 1 or 2 days after their expiry date.
    Yet for the rest, we follow the principle of before use date.

    1. Thank you very much! Yes, is very common in our lives and sometimes so common that we even don’t bother to check the expiry date 🤪
      With a stale bread can do quite a few delicious recipes 😉
      Always better consume everything before buying new things in order to avoid any waste 😉

    1. Very very true my dear! I am quite a minimalist person and it’s applied for my fridge and pantry too 😉 But hoarding is really a bad habit…and with this virus we’ve seen it happening all around the world…😥

  4. great timing! We just cleaned out our pantry and threw away so much! Now we have so much space and know exactly what we need. No overbuying. Your change looks nice, what were you going for? Take care.

    1. Always better to not overbuy…in this way you’ll never get bored and always have new things in the pantry 😉
      Sometimes I feel the need of fresh air and this applies with my blog too 😉
      I’m always looking for a minimalist, clean and chic style 😉 the only problem is that changing a blog theme can take a while as most of the time the sizes of the photos are different…but slowly I’ll get there though 🤪😉
      Take care and have a wonderful weekend! 🌸

  5. A very sound analysis. I can’t resist telling you that some years ago I found at the back of a cupboard a jar of chilli pickle. The jar and original label were in script I didn’t understand; an English label had been pasted over this with a best before date seven years earlier. I figured it would still be useable. It was delicious.

    1. Hahaha…oh yes, chilies have that power of being edible even after years and years…🤪
      If a jar of pickles is well done can last for quite a while but if it’s not done properly, after its expiry date (sometimes even before) will simply become inedible, all mushy and disgusting…better to avoid 😉

  6. Wow this is a good post for me. My daughter would visit and look at dates on items on the fridge door- I mean how long can a jar of capers last? I do follow the “if in doubt, throw it out” but don’t like to waste food.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad she’s checking, is always better to be careful 😉
      Sometimes a jar of capers can last quite a long time if stored properly…especially if are in salt 😉
      Better always buy how much we need and avoid waste!

  7. Perfect informative post about expiry of foods, 😀of course we should check the expiry date and buy the items otherwise it will be very bad for your health. 🙁
    Yes, most of the diary products are easily damaged within a few days. Thank you very much for the share friend. 💕

    1. Thank you very much for reading dear Suni!
      Yes, expired foods can give us nasty food poisoning, better to avoid them 😉
      And to do it, we simply just need to not overbuy 😉
      Have a wonderful weekend 🌸

    1. Thank you very much Namrata! Very appreciated!
      Yes, most of the time people forget to check the label of a product…better be careful as sometimes I’ve seen expired products even on the shelves of the supermarkets 😢 and a food poisoning can be very nasty…
      Take care and have a lovely weekend 🌸

  8. This is a great article to refer to. Thanks for all this research! I definitely ate some old cheese last week! I didn’t feel it at the time but I think I felt it later.

    1. Thank you very much for stopping by! If it’s an aged cheese then is good otherwise better avoid it 🤪 expired dairy products are one of the most nastier 🤢
      Take care and have a wonderful weekend 🌸

      1. Yes it was aged. Usually I just eat it anyways, but this one was very hard. I’ve never seen it do that before! It was a Pecorino Romano. Usually those just get a bit mouldy, but not hard like that.

      2. I have just finished my Pecorino Romano and yes, even if it’s older it can make a little bit of mould but will not become harder… just like grana padano or parmigiano reggiano 😉
        When a cheese loose it’s properties better don’t consume it 🤪

    1. Thank you very much for stopping by! Oh yes, with just a little from our side we can really do a lot! Food waste is really a problem! I hope people will learn the value of food! Have a wonderful weekend 🌸

  9. This is such a fantastic blog post. Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realise.
    I always check what’s in my cupboards before I go shopping, and I always make a list and stick to it. It can be easy to forget what we have at home once we are actually at the supermarket, so a list is always useful. It also helps to make sure we don’t forget anything. Thanks for sharing. I am glad to see you around on WordPress. Have a good weekend. Aiva

    1. Thank you very much Aiva!
      Oh yes, I do the same! A list is always helpful to avoid overbuying and makes us not forget what we need, which happens to me all the time 🤪
      Still here 😉 slow but still here 😉
      Take care and have a lovely weekend 🌸

  10. Wow, thats a long one😍 Very informative, maybe I should refer your posts if I am going to be a nutritionist or a proper dietician 🤔or just me 😅😂. You have all the qualities to become a dietician 😁✨🤗 Thanks for such informative post.✨🤗💐

    1. Thank you very much Simon for your time! I guess we all can be a little bit of a nutritionists for ourselves and take care of our bodies 😉
      Take care and have a wonderful weekend 😉🤗

  11. I rather not risk eating expired foods. Stuff I might still eat are packaged foods that have never been opened, like cake mix. But if it’s more than a year old, out it goes. Things I won’t touch that are even a few days expired are dairy products. It helps to clean the fridge once a month and toss or anything that has expired. Knowing what we have in our kitchens leads to less waste overall.

    1. Oh yes, expired dairy products are one of the nastiest…better avoid them!
      Better always buy less and consume it in time, in this way we always have new things to eat and we avoid waste 😉
      Thank you Hilary for stopping by! Wish you a wonderful weekend 🌸

      1. I feel like Costco encourages food waste. I only try to buy stuff that I know I can eat before it expires. Sometimes it’s tricky with extra-large sizes. As for dairy products, I stick to regular grocery store sizes.

      2. I believe most of the supermarkets will encourage food waste as more you buy better is for them…😥
        Better do your groceries list and stick to it. Don’t buy extra large sizes if you know you’ll not be able to finish it before the expiry date! Im this way you’ll not need to eat the same thing for a long time either 😉

      3. A giant box of croissants I had no issues polishing off in 3 days. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to stomach food and some days I will eat the same thing over and over again, if it keeps nausea at bay. Bleh, morning sickness is not pleasant. I can’t imagine 7 more months of this 😐

      4. So far we know it’s a baby bean. There’s a heart beat. Idk the gender yet as I’m only 9 weeks along. Becca thinks it’s a little girl. I’m thinking girl too but I’m always wrong with guesses 💛

  12. A great post Ribana! At one time I didn’t pay attention to expiry dates and ended up getting very sick once. Now I make sure I only buy what I can eat before that expiry date. I don’t like to waste food either so I generally only cook what I will eat that day, or maybe two days, nothing more than that because I know I’ll never eat it, then it just goes bad and out in the garbage. So I try not to have much leftovers now. I do buy ahead more now than I used to because of the virus, I don’t want to go out more than necessary, but I’m still careful about buying too much. Enjoyed the post very much Ribana, thanks!😀😺😻🌞

    1. Thank you very much Steve! Unfortunately food poisoning can be very nasty! Better be careful and always check the labels!
      I know now with the virus situation people started to overbuy…as long as the food will be eaten before the expiry date and will not be wasted is fine, but buying fresh foods that don’t last long and then throw them away, that’s not good 😥
      I always cook only what we eat one time, because I don’t want to eat two days the same thing and because I don’t want to waste it either 😉
      As long as we value food and do our part, food waste should not be a problem 😉
      I hope more people could be more responsible!
      Thank you again and wish you both a lovely weekend 😻🤗

      1. Yes, fresh foods I’m very careful with and only buy what I will eat so there is no waste. I really hate to throw out food. If we all did things right there would be enough food to feed the world easily.
        Have a great weekend Ribana!😃😺😻

      2. Very true Steve! If we all can be careful to not waste there would be enough food for the entire world indeed! I hope people can start being responsible!
        Weekend finished already, Monday is here 🥺 I really need a vacation 😰 I’m too tired…but no choice…need to move forward…have a wonderful week ahead you two! 😉😻

      3. Weekends do go by much too quickly, especially when we are tired and need more time to relax. But I hope your Monday goes quickly and smoothly with a wonderful burst of sunshine to help you through the day Ribana!😃😻 I was hit with an attack of severe pain yesterday which is still with me, so my week isn’t starting off too well, but the sun keeps shining even when we can’t see it right away. That’s why I always like to try and bring a “smile as wide as a country sunrise” as much as I can. And Muffin does too. Meow, meow.=Ooo, that was close one.😾😁🙄

      4. I’m really sorry Steve and I hope you’re feeling better! You need to slow down and take it easy and take care of you! Being positive is always helpful for us and for the others 😻 My dear Muffin take care of your human 😻🤗

      5. I don’t know how I missed this one, sorry about that! Good morning Ribana! Yes, I agree, I do need to slow down a bit, just seems like there is so much to do this time of year and winter came a bit early this year which made it a bit harder.😕 Now I have to fix my bird feeder, it has started to fall apart. I was going to do this before winter, but… Now I have to do it quickly, I hope.😬 I have to go out and buy some wood for it today and figure out what to do with it.🤔
        Meow, meow.=I try, he not listen too well.😾 I scared he going to fall off deck feeding birds!🙀 Almost do that yesterday!😳🙀
        Have a nice evening Ribana!😀🌙😻

      6. Dear Steve you should better listen to Muffin! I understand is wonderful to feed all those little critters around you but you also need to be very careful! Winter is tricky for everyone! You should better try to find another way to feed them instead of putting your life in danger everyday 🤦🏼‍♀️ 🙀😾
        Better take care and take care of Muffin too! 😻😺😽

      7. So true, I am going to try something,🤔 I have to fix my bird feeder before it falls down and I’m going to make changes to hopefully make it better.🙄 It’s kind of hard with the bylaws we have regarding bird feeders, and a nasty neighbor that likes to report me.🤪 But I think I can do it and still stay within the law. I’m going to need to get help with this project. First thing is to get some wood tomorrow. You should have seen me this morning! Now I need to wait a couple days for my back to settle down again. I hope my bird feeder lasts until Monday!😬🙀

      8. Oh my Steve! Please find a better solution for that feeder without needing to risk your back 😾 better stay within the law especially with nasty neighbors 🤦🏼‍♀️

      9. Yes, I thought I had it all figured out but then discovered one thing wouldn’t work, so now I need to do a bit more thinking. Oh well, I’ll come up with something, I hope.🤔😾

  13. This was really useful to know. I guess I’m just really lucky because I once ate some biscuits only to find out that it has already expired for a couple of months.

    1. Thank you very much! Frozen foods can last longer but we should better not forget them in the freezer 😉
      Not overbuying food is a good way to avoid waste and eat always different foods 😉

  14. This is a great post. What about canned fruits and beans? Some one told me canned beans can be used even 3 or 4 months after expiration? Also same with chocolates can be used if kept in the fridge?

    1. Thank you very much. Canned fruits and vegetables can last for 1-2 years after the date stamped on the can (depending on the storage conditions) but is a quality issue! Is always better to consume it before the expiry date.
      As for the chocolate, is safe to eat after its best before date. How long after the best before date you can enjoy chocolate depends on the specific product, and your personal preferences but as with the canned fruits and vegetables it may be a quality problem, and you can feel a change in flavor.

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