Cereal is a staple in many American households, and it’s often one of the first things you see on the grocery store shelves.
It’s also one of the most perishable items you’ll find there.
But what happens once the expiration date comes around?
Does cereal actually go bad?
And if so, how do you know that it’s no longer edible?
If you want to know about how long food lasts, you’ve come to the right place!
Here, we’ll answer all your questions about cereal, including whether or not it goes bad, how to check its expiration date, and what to do with it once it’s past its prime.
Does cereal expire?
The short answer is yes, but it depends on the type of cereal.
Some varieties are better suited for storage than others, which means they will last longer.
For example, some types of Cheerios have a shelf life of up to two years, while other cereals like Frosted Flakes will only last about six months.
The USDA has set guidelines for cereal manufacturers regarding how long certain products should be stored before they start to lose their freshness.
The guidelines specify that cereals should be kept at room temperature (68-77 degrees Fahrenheit) and away from direct sunlight.
However, these guidelines apply to all cereals, regardless of brand.
If you buy a box of corn flakes and it says “best by” on the packaging, then it’s probably been sitting on the shelf too long.
That said, even though it’s expired, it may still be safe to eat because it hasn’t spoiled yet.
How long does cereal last?
Most cereals have a shelf life of less than a year, but some varieties can last much longer.
In fact, some brands of corn flakes have an expiration date as far out as five years.
According to the USDA, cereals can stay fresh for up to 12 months if you store them properly.
However, if you don’t keep them in a cool, dry environment, they could spoil faster.
What is the shelf life of cereal?
Each cereal manufacturer sets its own expiration dates, but most of them fall within the same range.
For example, Kellogg’s has a shelf life of up to two years, while General Mills has a limit of about eight months.
Cereals that are sold under private labels may vary depending on the company that produced them, so make sure to read the label closely.
How do you know when cereal expires?
You can usually figure out when cereal is going to expire based on the packaging.
If you see a product with a best-by date, then it’s probably been sitting on the shelf too long and won’t taste very good anymore.
A lot of cereals have a date printed on the box, such as “Best if Used By” or “Use By”.
These dates indicate the approximate amount of time that the product can be safely consumed, but they don’t mean that it will necessarily taste good.
Another way to determine how long cereal will last is to look at the ingredients list.
If the cereal contains any preservatives, then it’s likely going to spoil sooner than other varieties.
This includes artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors, as well as stabilizers and thickeners.
What happens if you eat expired cereal?
If you eat cereal that’s expired, you run the risk of getting sick.
There’s no telling what kind of bacteria or mold might be growing inside it, and it could cause serious health problems.
You should throw it out immediately.
Even if it looks fine, you shouldn’t put it back into your shopping cart and take it home.
When you get home, remove the packaging and inspect the product to make sure it doesn’t smell, look, or feel different than usual.
If it does, you need to discard it immediately.
Is it safe to eat cereal that has passed its expiration date?
Cereal that has already been opened isn’t safe to consume, since it’s been exposed to air.
Even if you haven’t touched it, you shouldn’t eat it if it smells off, looks funky, or has strange textures.
There are plenty of ways to preserve food, including freezing it, drying it, and storing it in airtight containers.
But if you open a package of cereal and then decide you don’t want to eat it, you should toss it out instead of eating it.
How can you tell if cereal has gone bad?
In order to avoid wasting money on food that has spoiled, you should always pay attention to the expiration date.
If it’s close, then you should probably throw it out.
If it’s far away, then you probably won’t notice a difference until it’s too late.
Once you’re home, you should check the product again.
If it still looks good, then you can try opening it.
If it starts to smell funny, then you should definitely dispose of it.
If it begins to look or smell gross, then throw it out immediately.
What do you do with expired cereal?
Some people prefer to use expired cereal as filler in recipes.
If you’ve got extra cereal in the pantry, you can save it and use it later.
Just remember to add it to recipes after you’ve checked the expiration date to make sure it’s still edible.
Can you still eat cereal that is a little bit expired?
Yes, but you should use your judgment.
It’s better to err on the side of caution and throw out anything that’s more than a few days past its expiration date.
If you think you might be able to save it, you can always cook it up and reheat it later.
Just make sure to heat it up slowly in a microwave or on the stovetop.
If you buy cereal in bulk, it’s important to rotate stock so that you don’t end up eating old food.
You can either freeze it or put it in the fridge.
Either way, you should plan to use it up quickly so that you don’t waste money buying new supplies.
Is it okay to eat cereal that is a little bit expired?
It depends on the cereal. If it’s made primarily of grains, then it’s probably safe to eat.
Corn flours, oats, and rice are examples of foods that are made of mostly carbohydrates, and they tend to last longer than other cereals.
Other types of cereal contain additives that aren’t considered safe to eat.
These include milk powder, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors.
They’re generally not recommended for consumption.
Is it okay to eat cereal that has passed its expiration date?
Yes, as long as you follow proper food handling procedures.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching food, and keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods.
In addition, you should never leave food outside of the refrigerator, and you should always clean up spills.
Make sure to check the expiration date every time you buy something, and throw out any food that’s past its expiration date.
Don’t forget to eat your breakfast, too!
- 1 oven
- 1 large bowl
- 1 medium bowl
- 7 cups quick cooking oats
- 1 cup wheat germ
- 1 cup wheat bran
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Optional
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg Optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dates chopped
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup flaked coconut Optional
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, mix oats, wheat germ, and wheat bran.
- In a medium bowl, blend brown sugar, vegetable oil, honey, and water. Mix in vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir the brown sugar mixture into the oat mixture until evenly moist, and transfer to a large, shallow baking dish.
- Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly brown. Mix dates, pecans, and coconut into the dish, and continue baking about 15 minutes. Allow to cool, and store in airtight containers.
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