When your carton of eggs is slightly past the expiration date, do you take it as a sign that the food is necessarily bad?

Most food scientists will admit that just because the expiration date reads April 4,  doesn’t mean you should throw away those uneaten eggs, however gross it might sound. So you can bet the food industry does its homework before setting expiry dates for public “best before” dates, or in other words when bacteria on the food will turn dangerous. That’s why expiry dates on food are always bumped up a few days, or even by a full week, to be safe.

That doesn’t mean consuming something like chicken isn’t dangerous a few days past the due date. The important part is to handle the meat correctly and cook it thoroughly. So if you do decide to eat that cereal past its expiration date, you’ll probably be safe. Different expired foods will have different effects and risk of bacteria.

Here are the ten foods you’ll want to be cautious of eating past the expiration date…

1. Oysters

Consuming oysters that have spoiled may be determined simply by inspecting them for smell, and apprearance. However, it’s a definite risk to ignore the due dates on oysters, because they may be harboring Vibrio vulnificus or Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria.

Symptoms of a Vibrio infection include stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and fever. In severe cases, the infection can spread to the bloodstream causing a blood infection and even death. So, just to be safe – don’t eat them past their due date.

2. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens that develop a slimy coating and turn color are far past the due date. But when tossing together a quick salad, you may be not seeing the signs of a turned batch of leafy greens.

Consuming leafy greens that have gone rotten can lead to food poisoning. Which if you’ve ever experienced that once, you know it’s best to not risk it again. Toss the overdue lettuce, and not in a salad tossing way.

3. Cheese

Not all cheeses are alike, and while with hard cheeses you can even cut the mold away and continue to enjoy the rest of the block, with soft cheeses it’s a much different story.

Soft cheeses like brie or goat cheese are made from raw (unpasteurized) milk, and are prone to bacteria growth when spoilt, such as the dangerous Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Be mindful of your cheese’s expiration date, and remember that there’s always more cheese in the world, and it’s best to throw out the expired kind.

4. Eggs

The most frequent cases of food poisoning occur due to eggs consumed past their expiry date when either consumed raw or not fully cooked.

If you’re concerned, you can always test your eggs to see if they’re still good to eat by filling a bowl with cold water and placing the eggs into the bowl. If the eggs sink and lay flat on their side, they’re still ok. If they stand on one end or float, they’re expired. If you’re going to risk eating them past their expiry – just don’t eat them raw or soft boiled. Fully cook them after their “fresh test” to be safe.

5. Sprouts

Sprouts, especially alfalfa, often spoil and become contaminated with bacteria during storage if left out or not refrigerated properly. If left in warm, moist conditions sprouts will rapid produce food-borne microbes.

Some consider raw sprouts to be the riskiest food in the grocery store because of the way they grow in warm and humid conditions – the exact same conditions that bacteria such as Salmonella grows. If you’re wanting to enjoy sprouts on your next sandwich, make sure they’re fresh and don’t risk them past expiry.

6. Ground Beef

Because E. coli tends to thrive in the intestines of warm-blooded mammals, like cattle, bacteria will stay intact during meat processing and transfer to humans if not cooked thoroughly.

Ground beef is particularitly risky because it’s got much more surface space than say, a solid cut of beef. It has much more exposure to air, making it much more prone to bacteria growth.

7. Chicken

Undercooked chicken is a food poisoning and E. coli bacteria hazard if eaten raw or undercooked—even within its due date.

So when it comes to risking the cooking and eating of chicken after it’s expiry date, hard pass. It’s not worth the risk, even a little.

8. Deli Meats

E. coli bacteria is rampant in processed deli meats—particularly if not consume within days of opening the package. Often deli meats when they’re spoiled, it’s obvious due to their smell and an oil slick appearance on the surface. If you’re not sure, don’t risk it.

Listeria is also a risk with deli meats and pregnant women should always take extra caution by heating up deli meat first. Hey, who doesn’t love a delicious hot grilled panini sub?

9. Shrimp

Raw or frozen uncooked shrimp is often ripe with bacteria when it’s fished out of the water. That’s why vigilance when it comes to shellfish best before dates and thorough cooking practices is so important.

Eating spoiled shrimp can lead to an awful case of food-poisoning. The most common way to detect spoiled shrimp is to sniff-test it to see if it’s giving off a scent of ammonia or bleach, this is a tell-tale sign that it’s time to throw them out.

10. Berries

Berries—particularly spoiled raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries with uneven surfaces—can carry Cyclospora (an illness linked to fecal bacteria) that requires antibiotic treatment to overcome.

Often times we simply grab them straight from the fridge without inspecting first. To minimize the risk, wash all your berries, and check them out before eating them. Once they’re past expiry – it’s time to toss and move on!


Sarah Nicole

Since successfully losing 100lbs by changing her relationship with food and her body, Sarah has taken her passion for food and balanced it between cucumbers and cupcakes. When she's not bustling her way around a kitchen, you can find her working out or winding down at home with her 3 kids and pug. Follow Sarah's journey on Instagram @TheBirdsPapaya.

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