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What Happens if you Eat Expired Food

 
By Elsie Goycoolea. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Happens if you Eat Expired Food

Most food products tend to be sold with an expiration date on the label that will tell you for how long can you store it and consume it before food goes bad. Yogurt and cheese usually have a shortened expiration date after which they will start to rot or become moldy. Sometimes you will smell and taste an expired food product before eating it. However, if you eat expired food it may lead to digestive issues and food poisoning.

In this OneHowTo article we answer the question: what happens if you eat expired food?

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Difference between “expires by” and “sell by” date

You may have noticed that some food manufacturers use the term “sell by”, “best buy” or “use by” in lieu of “expires by” on their products. The expiration date is essentially the last day a product can be consumed before it actually goes bad and starts posing a health problem.

On the other hand, if a product has a “sell by” date it essentially conveys the last day that a food product should be sold for optimum quality. These other terms help to indicate when the quality of a food item will start to degrade but doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t me eaten anymore. You would still be able to eat a food past its “sell by” date without risking food poisoning.

What Happens if you Eat Expired Food - Difference between “expires by” and “sell by” date

Foods safe to eat past the expiration date

Setting an expiration date is a voluntary decision made by food manufacturers. Certain food products have a very long expiration date and it is supposed that people will eat the food long before it actually expires. For instance, cereals, dry pasta and other grains tend to have one or two- year expiration dates.

Moreover, it is argued that sugar, honey, vinegar or even dried beans have an indefinite shelf life and thus will never expire. For these food items you can use the smell or taste test if you are unsure they are opt for eating or learn how to know if food is safe to eat.

What Happens if you Eat Expired Food - Foods safe to eat past the expiration date

Foods unsafe to eat past the expiration date

There are food products that tend to hold a high level of moisture and tend to attract harmful pathogens. Soft cheeses, yogurt and deli meets offer the perfect environment for bacteria to proliferate very quickly. Storing these items in the fridge can reduce bacteria growth, but too often it is not cool enough to prevent bacteria thriving. Also, poultry, meat, eggs and mixed bagged greens turn bad very easily and are prone to cross contamination from listeria, E.coli and salmonella.

For marinades, sauces and canned products expiration dates are often not the best indicator. Once the bottles or cans are opened the rate at which bacteria can grow increases. You may have noticed how food in opened cans turns bad much faster.

What Happens if you Eat Expired Food - Foods unsafe to eat past the expiration date

Consequences of eating expired food

In the worst scenario, if you eat a food item past its expiration date and was actually turning bad you will suffer from food poisoning symptoms. Mold and bacteria can be present in the food even if you didn’t think the food tasted bad.

Common symptoms include:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

After a period of 10 days most symptoms will disappear; however, we recommend you seek a doctor to follow up on your health status.

What Happens if you Eat Expired Food - Consequences of eating expired food

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Happens if you Eat Expired Food, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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