Are there health effects if expired foods are eaten?

Fact Checked

The health effects of eating expired food can range from none up to severe issues. Just remember that it all depends on the food that was eaten and when it was eaten. A good example is eating a carrot that is one day past its expiration date, but it will not pose as a risk for health issues. On the other hand, if an individual eats pork that is three weeks past its expiration date, it can lead to an upset stomach and even a serious case of food poisoning.

Date types

The expiration dates cover various stages. The sell-by date is the date when the store will discard the product. The best before date refers to the taste and quality of the product but not necessarily the health effects if consumed way past the date.

The use-by date refers to the last safe date before it starts to turn bad. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily indicate that the next day will turn the product poisonous. It is basically a marker that the food is degrading to a lower quality and in a potentially dangerous state.

Expired food
The common signs of food poisoning include abdominal cramping, fever, frequent vomiting, dehydration, dizziness and persistent diarrhea.

Food poisoning

Even though the expiration dates is related to the taste of the product, there are cases of food poisoning that is triggered by eating expired food. The symptoms of health effects tend to vary depending on the type of poisoning. Nevertheless, the common signs include abdominal cramping, fever, frequent vomiting, dehydration, dizziness and persistent diarrhea. The symptoms can persist for a few hours, days or weeks depending on the severity of the condition. Some foods that were stored past its use-by date in poor condition can become contaminated with bacterial infections such as listeria or salmonella. By enrolling in a first aid course, you can learn ways to manage the symptoms of food poisoning.


An obvious indication of food that is way past its expiration date is the growth of mold. Take note that mold typically includes various types of fungi and the spores they produce land on the food from the air and start to propagate. Some types of mold produce toxic substances as they develop. Mycotoxins can thrive on celery, nuts, grapes, apples and other foods. The mycotoxins can cause nausea, itchiness, dizziness and oftentimes headaches.

Considerations to bear in mind

Even though it is important to take care of food that is way past its expiration date especially meat and poultry, it is best to take into consideration that most dates are simply guidelines. Most of them are present simply to protect companies from possible lawsuits if an individual eaten the food and gets sick. In most cases in which an individual ate a particular food past the expiration date, it poses no threat but extra care should be taken with out-of-date food if eaten by infants and pregnant women.

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