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Does Pasta Expire

Updated: Sep 6, 2020

I just had a thought looking at some old packets of pasta. Does pasta expire? There is an expiry date on the pasta package. The date is placed their to avoid any possible health issues. However there are two possible dates you may see. Expiration Date and Best Before Date. What do they mean?


According to those in the know, expiration dates advise the last day a product is safe to consume. Whilst the best before date tells you that the food is no longer in its perfect shape from that date. It may just lose its freshness, taste, aroma or nutrients. However, it does not necessarily mean that the food is no longer safe to eat.



On the subject of expiration dates, they are applied to selected food products and to some other manufactured products like infant car seats, motorcycle helmets, where the age of the product may impact its safe use. Then there are arbitrary expiration dates which are different again and commonly applied by companies to product coupons, promotional offers, and credit cards.


Some foods I'm told are still OK to eat even after the expiration date. How long your food is good for after the expiration date will depend on the type of food. For an example, dairy lasts one to two weeks, eggs last almost two weeks, and grains last a year after their 'sell-by' date. So I am told.


Can you get food poisoning from expired food?


If you do eat a food past the expiration date, you could develop symptoms of food poisoning. The symptoms of food borne illness can include fever, chills, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. I guess if the food smells off or looks off then don't eat it.


Shelf Life Testing


Food Scientists will calculate a products shelf life. If as an example they say the shelf life is 6 months then the laboratory will test at Day 0, Day 1, Day 7, Day 14 and so on until the 6 month threshold is passed. If the results prove positive then the result is published.


Are use-by-dates strict?


The idea is that after the use by date, the food could be unsafe to eat or drink, even if it has been stored correctly and looks and smells fine. But I certainly know a few people who buy cheap and constantly eat past 'use by date' foods and still live today.


It would seem that a lot of foods, including meat and milk, can be frozen before the use-by-date and so when the time comes to consume them, their life span has been extended to some degree of how long I do not know.


What to do with expired food?


When food reaches its sell-by date, some markets donate products to food banks or sell them to salvage stores. After hours your local supermarket becomes a hive of activity as items with an about to expire sell by date are removed from shelves. These can be in the form of canned vegetables and salad dressings to fresh fruits and deli meats.


The sell by date is aimed retailers, and it informs them of the date by which the product should be sold or removed from shelf life. This does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after the date. Typically one-third of a product's shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.


As far as pasta is concerned you will see a use by date, not to be ignored. Someone went to a lot of trouble to establish the life span of pasta. And who wants to eat old pasta anyway. Stick to fresh pasta even if it comes from a packet. Like and subscribe.

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