What Foods Should You Not Eat Past Their Expiration Date?

Although eating expired food can always be dangerous and unhealthy, some people see expiration dates as more of a suggestion than a demand.

Assorted deli meats, rosemary and pepper

But did you know there are some foods you should never eat past the expiration date?

In this article, I’ll share the types of food you should never consume after their expiration date because the risks are too high to be worth it.

We will also explain how best to enjoy these foods when they are still fresh.

Foods You Shouldn’t Eat Past Expiration

Read on and find out which foods you need to throw away as soon as their expiry date passes!

Deli Meat

Deli meat is one of the most common items you should never eat past its expiration date.

several types of deli meat

It usually consists of a combination of pork, beef, chicken, or turkey; you can find it in your grocery store in the refrigerated section.

Once the expiration date passes, the proteins in the deli meat can start to break down and form harmful bacteria.

These bacteria can cause food poisoning, stomach issues, and other health problems.

Deli meat is great before the expiration date, and I love to throw it on sandwiches, such as a turkey and cheese sandwich with pickled red onion.

Fresh Meat

Like deli meat, fresh meat should always be consumed before its expiration date, as it can quickly become contaminated with bacteria and food poisoning-causing viruses.


The best way to enjoy fresh meat is to cook it as soon as you purchase it and make sure that you store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to consume it.

Fresh meat is a fantastic source of protein, so I love to include it in my meals!

My go-to is a juicy steak grilled with peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Soft Cheese

Soft cheeses like brie and camembert are delicious, but unfortunately, they have a very short shelf life.

Fresh Brie cheese and a slice on a wooden board with nuts

Soft cheese typically consists of unpasteurized milk, and the proteins in milk can quickly break down and become contaminated with bacteria.

This is why you should always eat soft cheese before its expiration date; anything past that point can cause serious food poisoning.

I love to enjoy soft cheese simply, like spread on crackers or pieces of bread. But a charcuterie board is always a great idea, too!

Fresh Berries

Berries like strawberries and raspberries provide a wonderful source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. But just like soft cheese, they are susceptible to spoilage and contamination.

strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

As soon as the expiration date passes, bacteria can quickly build up and cause food poisoning.

So I would always recommend eating your berries before expiration, even if they still look edible.

Berries are best eaten fresh, and I enjoy them as a snack in the summertime.

You can also cook them into a pie for the fall and winter holidays or make them into jams or jellies that can last much longer.

Egg Substitutes

Egg substitutes, or commercial egg replacers, are typically made from potato starch, tapioca starch, and leavening agents. 

just egg substitute on stove

They are a fantastic option for those who do not consume eggs or want to watch their cholesterol.

However, it’s important not to eat them after the expiration date because the leavening agent won’t work as it intended to.

Even if you’re using these substitutes for cakes or bread, your baked goods might not turn out how you’d expect once they’ve expired.

I like to use non-expired egg substitutes in baking, as it adds a wonderful texture and consistency.


Fish is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Salmon Steak Fillet With Grainy Mustard And Spinach

But like soft cheese and fresh berries, fish is highly susceptible to spoilage and contamination.

Therefore, the expiration date for fish is always shorter than for other proteins.

Eating expired fish can cause food poisoning, so it’s always best to consume fish well before its expiration date to be safe.

My favorite way to enjoy fresh fish is simply pan-fried in butter and herbs.

You can also bake fish with potatoes and other vegetables for a delicious, nutritious meal.

Ground Meats

Ground meats – such as ground beef, ground pork, and ground chicken – are super convenient for meals like burritos, nachos, lasagna, pasta sauce, burgers, and more.

ground meat

However, since ground meats are usually made from multiple pieces of meat and require longer processing time, they must be consumed before expiration.

I like to make simple dishes with ground meats, such as beef tacos with lettuce and cheese or pork dumplings with garlic and chives.

You can also add meatballs to your next spaghetti dish for a delightful, savory touch.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are some of the most healthy foods you can eat. This includes foods like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.

Fresh green salad with spinach,arugula,romaine and lettuce

Leafy greens are highly perishable, and it’s crucial not to eat that after their expiration date, especially if you plan on consuming them fresh.

You’ll likely start to notice that they’re going bad before even looking at the date because you’ll see them become dark, wilted, or slimy. 

You can use fresh, unspoiled leafy greens for various purposes, such as salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.

I love to sauté them in olive oil for a delicious side dish or add them to fried rice for a healthy upgrade.


Sprouts are another super healthy food. Common sprouts are alfalfa and mung bean, which you can easily find in grocery stores.

sprouts in jar

These sprouts are usually sold pre-packaged and are known to contain high levels of nutrients and enzymes.

But, like all other perishable foods, it’s important not to consume sprouts after the expiration date.

They can quickly spoil and contaminate with bacteria, leading to foodborne illnesses.

My favorite way to enjoy sprouts is to add them to my salads and sandwiches, as they add a subtle crunch and flavor.

You can also sauté them with some garlic, onions, and spices for a delicious accompaniment to pretty much any meal.


I’ve already discussed why it’s imperative to avoid eating fish before its expiration date, and the same goes for any type of shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, or lobster.

Seafood ingredients hard shell

Seafood, in general, is considered highly perishable, and shellfish is no exception.

They can quickly spoil and cause food poisoning if not consumed before the date on the packaging.

Moreover, the best way to consume shellfish or fish is to not buy it in packaging at all but to get it fresh from the market and prepare it within one or two days.

Plus, this method guarantees the best taste, too, so it’s a win-win!


Ever heard of salmonella? Although the risks for consuming eggs past their expiration date are relatively low, it’s best to discard them once they become outdated because of salmonella and other bacteria.

Types Of Eggs On The Basket

Eggs contain many vitamins, minerals, and proteins, making them a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack.

I love to fry an egg in butter with some salt and pepper for an easy meal accompaniment.

But my favorite way to enjoy eggs is by boiling them and making egg salad sandwiches or deviled eggs.

You can also poach them and have them with toast or add them to your pasta dishes.

Potato Salad

Potato salad is a classic dish that goes well with pretty much any meal, especially at outdoor events like barbecues or picnics.

potato salad

It’s also super easy to make and contains minimal ingredients – potatoes, mustard, salt, and pepper.

But since it contains several highly perishable items like mayonnaise (which contains eggs), it’s vital not to eat potato salad once it has expired. 

Even if you don’t see any signs of spoilage, which might be hard to identify in a potato salad, bacteria can still be present and cause food poisoning.

The best way to enjoy potato salad is to make it fresh at home, where you can control the ingredients and the quality of the potatoes.

Then serve it chilled with a sprinkle of paprika or chives and some extra mustard for flavor. Delicious!

Cold-Pressed Juice

Cold-pressed juice is a fantastic way to get your daily dose of minerals and vitamins without eating as many fruits and vegetables.

cold pressed juice bottles

Most cold-pressed juices are made by extracting the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables, then pressing them together in a special machine.

Since these juices are made with fresh ingredients, they are highly perishable and should be consumed within a few days of purchase.

If you don’t think you can drink it all in time, freeze some of it and enjoy it later on.

My favorite way to drink cold-pressed juice is chilled, with no added sugar or flavors. But you can also mix it with your smoothies or add it to cocktails for a refreshing and healthy treat!

Jarred Condiments

The last food you should never eat past its expiration date is jarred condiments such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, and mustard.


These condiments contain preservatives, which keep them safe to consume longer; however, just because they’ve been sitting on your shelf for months doesn’t mean they’re safe to eat.

Once opened, these condiments should be consumed within a few weeks (or sooner, depending on the expiry date).

Plus, you should always check for signs of spoilage, such as an abnormal change in color or smell.

And, of course, there are many ways to enjoy these condiments, depending on your tastes.

I like barbecue sauce on grilled chicken, mustard on hot dogs, and ketchup on everything!

Foods You Shouldn’t Eat Past Expiration

  1. Deli Meat
  2. Fresh Meat
  3. Soft Cheese
  4. Fresh Berries
  5. Egg Substitutes
  6. Fish
  7. Ground Meats
  8. Leafy Greens
  9. Sprouts
  10. Shellfish
  11. Eggs
  12. Potato Salad
  13. Cold-Pressed Juice
  14. Jarred Condiments

Be Careful With These Foods!

There are certain foods you can push the boundaries with, but some should not be eaten past their expiration date.

What foods are you extra cautious with?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.