What happens when you eat expired food?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “what happens when you eat expired food?”. We will also discuss how you can maximize the shelf life of food products. Moreover, we will discuss how you can tell that food has expired.

What happens when you eat expired food?

If you eat expired food, you will have food poisoning which is caused by the consumption of water or foods with toxins, bacteria, or viruses. Fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting are symptoms that you may experience with food poisoning.

Consuming food or drink that is contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, or toxins may result in a condition known as food poisoning. During the food’s journey from farm to table, contamination may occur. 

Different types of contaminants may lead to different types of food poisoning. Salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, and  Listeria are the contaminants that are most common.

Contaminated water, contact with infected animals, or contact with contaminated surfaces are some of the ways through which contaminants enter the food supply. Improper food handling and preparation can also contribute to the spread of food poisoning.

How can you tell that food has expired?


Expired food has an awful smell because they begin to decompose. When food decomposes, it releases chemicals that are responsible for the bad smell. The bad smell is due to the breakdown of fats and proteins. When fats and proteins break down, they release chemicals that can cause a bad smell.

Expired food may also smell bad because of the presence of mold. The fungus that grows on food is known as mold. Mold releases chemicals that can cause a bad smell.


Expired food will often have a different texture than when it was first purchased. The texture may be more mushy or dry, and the flavor may be different as well. The texture and flavor of the food change when food expires, because the nutrients in the food start to break down. Exposure to oxygen, light, and heat accelerates this process.


Expired food is often discolored. This is because the food is no longer fresh and the nutrients have begun to break down. The color of the food can also change due to oxidation, which is when the food is exposed to air. 

The nutrients in the food begin to break down when food expires, a process that is called oxidation. Oxidation causes the food to change color, usually to a brown or black color. The food may also change texture, becoming mushy or slimy. Expired food may also have an off odor.

How can the shelf life of food be maximized?

Food shelf life can be maximized in a number of ways including the following:

  • Store food in a cool, dry place: This will help to keep mold and bacteria from growing. 
  • Keep food sealed: This will help to keep out oxygen and moisture which can cause food to spoil.
  • Rotate food: This will help to ensure that you are using the oldest food first and that it does not spoil before you have a chance to eat it.

Which foods are okay to eat after the “Best By” date?

Foods such as canned goods, dried fruits, and nuts will last for months after the said date if stored properly. 

Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Parmesan, can last for weeks, while softer cheeses, such as mozzarella, will only last a few days. Bread, cookies, and crackers will last for a week or two after the best-by date, while cakes and pies will only last a few days.

Expiry dates and the “best by” dates are quite different. Expiry dates indicate that the food wouldn’t be good for human consumption past the given date. Best by date on the other hand shows that past the given date, the food won’t be at its best quality standard but you can consume it even past the given date without food poisoning

You can read more on the foods that must not be eaten past their expiry date here


In this brief article, we have answered the question “what happens when you eat expired food?” We have also discussed how you can maximize the shelf life of foods. Moreover, we have discussed food poisoning and how to tell if food has expired.

Hope you find this blog useful, in case of any questions, please let us know





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