Sometimes it happens accidentally: You use something from the depths of your refrigerator or pantry only to realize after you use it that it’s expired. Should you panic? Probably not.
If you’re curious about what can happen if you eat expired foods, then there are a few of the possible side effects you can experience.
One of the most serious things that can happen by eating expired foods is food poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 1 in 6 Americans have food poisoning each year. If you get it, then you can experience some unpleasant symptoms such as:
- Stomach cramps
You can get food poisoning from expired foods if they are spoiled or contaminated, so it really depends on what you’re eating and exactly how expired it is. Perishable foods such as meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables are more likely to make you sick. But often you can tell that these foods shouldn’t be eaten because they have a strange texture, color, or smell. They often taste bad, too.
Exposure to Bacteria
Some expired foods can expose you to dangerous bacteria or toxins that can make you ill. Molds, bacteria, and yeast can cause food to go bad and create stomach issues just as those experienced with food poisoning.
But they can also cause other issues such as confusion, a stiff neck, muscle aches, and even loss of balance. It depends on what you’ve been exposed to. That’s why eating food that has mold on it is a bad idea.
Most of the time, eating expired foods won’t hurt you at all. It may simply not taste or look how it should. Many foods have expiration dates on them that refer to their freshness, so if it’s past its peak it’s not exactly hazardous to your health, simply hazardous to your taste buds.
Sell by dates, use by dates, and freeze by dates don’t usually refer to a food’s safety, especially when it comes to non-perishable foods such as those found in a can, on the shelf, or frozen foods.
It’s probably not a good idea to make a practice of eating expired foods, but as you can see, it really depends on what you’re eating that is expired.