What Happens If You Eat Expired Food?

What Happens If You Eat Expired Food?

Food items in general have a particular shelf life. Even the natural fruits and vegetables have to be consumed as fresh as possible or there is a chance of spoilage of such fresh fruits and vegetables in spite of keeping under refrigeration conditions. The condition where the food is unsuitable for consumption any more is termed as Expiry of Food. This expiry of food is especially related to packaged food items which are anyways preserved with artificial preservatives. Though our busy lifestyles have led us to consume such packaged foods often, it is important to understand what happens if we eat expired food products?

According to the federal laws of USA, the only food item which needs to voluntary labelled for expiration includes baby foods and infant formulas. There are other states which also has a mandate for labelling the dairy products for expiration appropriately.

Ideally the term “Expiration Date” means that beyond that stipulated date, the food should not be consumed. Even if it is consumed, it is consumed at the risk of consumers and the manufacturer is not to be blamed for. Some other legal terminologies used to indicate the safety of food include ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates which indicates the sellers. The consumers about the time period for which the food product is safe to be sold and/or consumed safely respectively.

Expired food though might not have a fatal reaction but such foodstuff is better avoided in order to prevent the physical discomfort caused by such foods. Especially, food products which exude an offending odour, appearance, or flavour should be better avoided.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Food?

Eating expired food might have various impacts on various individuals. While some expired food might be dangerous and cause severe food poisoning while other expired foods can cause physical discomforts such as causing an upset stomach and vomiting. Another danger of consuming expired food, especially canned products, includes the risk of developing Botulism Bacteria. This can cause grievous consequences. Some of the other common symptoms caused by eating expired foods include

  • vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Mild fever
  • Headaches

Eating expired food also compromises on the nutritional intake associated with such food. Thus, it can be easily concluded that though certain food products can become poison post their expiration dates. But other food products might merely lose their color, flavour, and nutritional value only which compromises with the quality of the food product rather than compromising on the health and safety of the consumers.

However, one should also understand and remember firmly that expiration date is only valid till the food container or packaging is opened. The concept of expiration date loses importance once the seal and the packaging of the food are tampered or opened. This is because, once the food is in contact with the air, the food would automatically start degrading at a speed depending on the external temperature. The exposure to bacteria, even if the food is within the date of expiration.

What Should You Do If You Eat Expired Food?

Primarily one should avoid eating expired food. However, even if someone consumes expired food and the individual is suffering from some physical discomfort such as vomiting or diarrhea, individuals should take the help of natural home remedies to get through such physical discomfort such as drinking lots of water, eating light foodstuff, and taking lots of rest.

However, in case the symptoms persist and get even worse such as turning towards food poisoning, it is advisable that the individual checks with a medical practitioner to get the best treatments in order to recover from such health issues soon.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad