Expired Food Dangers : What Happens If You Eat Expired Food – So…you’ve got some expired food lying around. Is that “Sell By” date really a line you don’t want to cross? If you’re on a budget, you’ve probably tossed around the idea of eating the food anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, how about your pants exploding? Sort of. There are some things you should be aware of .
1. Expired Eggs
The main concern with spoiled eggs is salmonella poisoning, since eggs come from chickens. You’d feel stomach pain, chills, and develop a fever. If you eat a couple of expired eggs, you’ll probably be okay—your immune system should be strong enough to flush out the bacteria. But those with compromised immune systems, young children, and the elderly may need antibiotic treatment.
• What you should know: Look for the “Sell By” date on your carton. This date technically isn’t an expiration date; your eggs are good for another week after that date. When in doubt, do the water test: put an egg in a big bowl of cold water. If it sinks and lays on its side, it’s perfectly good to eat. If it sinks and stays upright, you can still eat it, but it’s really on the border, so eat it ASAP. If the egg doesn’t sink at all, throw it out.
2. Expired Milk
There’s all kinds of milk out there these days: your standard pasteurized milk, lactose-free milk, almond milk…the list is pretty long. Drinking any kind of expired milk, though, will result in the same: you’ll have some serious stomach cramps and digestive problems for a couple days. Think stomach flu symptoms—not fun!
• What you should know: Your milk is good for a few days after that “Sell By” date,but there really isn’t a hard rule. Luckily, it’s pretty clear when milk has gone bad: just sniff the open gallon or carton. Trust me, there’s no mistaking the sour smell of bad milk! If you do take a little taste, you’ll know that it’s “off” Milk is an easy one: any sourness, Toss it!
3. Expired Cheese
You want a slice of cheese for your sandwich,but you don’t notice the green mold on the corner!It can be tricky to tell whether cheese is expired or not, since it comes in so many colors, textures, and smells. Some cheeses, like bleu cheese, are actually produced using an aging process to produce mold! If you eat expired cheese, it’s likely that nothing will happen to your body; unless you’re lactose-intolerant, your digestive system knows how to break down and get rid of the mold in cheese.
• What you should know: Now, that’s not to say that it’s okay to eat the mold on cheese. Always, always cut out any mold you see on your cheese. Once you cut out the mold, the rest of the cheese should be okay. If it’s truly gone bad, it’ll smell like ammonia. Before eating cheese, carefully inspect it for mold and give it a whiff. Sniff sniff—like that. If you’re in any doubt, start by eating a small piece. You’ll have stomach flu-like symptoms if your cheese is expired.
4. Expired Bread
If that bread has mold on the corners and you don’t notice it, you’ll be okay if you have a strong immune system. BUT products like bread—and other foods in the grain family—can grow aflatoxin, which is one of the most widespread and highly studied molds in the world. In large amounts, it can make people and animals very sick, like “you should probably go to the hospital” sick. Aflatoxins grow in soft products, like breads and baked goods. Have you ever accidentally eaten moldy bread?
• What you should know: If you see mold on even one slice of bread, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw the whole loaf out. Even if you see mold on one slice, the spores are probably already widespread through the bag. Check and inspect your bread regularly. And hey, bread will get stale before it gets moldy; you can make croutons or a great French toast with stale bread!Have you ever done this?
5. Expired Deli Meat
Staying with the sandwich theme here, say you go for some turkey or ham. Deli meat is especially prone to growing a bacterium called listeria. Listeria is found in factories where processed meat, like your deli meat and hot dogs, is packaged. What’s more, listeria likes to multiply in cold areas—like your fridge! It causes the symptoms that most food poisoning does, but in advanced cases, it can cause dizziness, a stiff neck, confusion, and muscle aches.
• What you should know: If your deli meat is rancid, it’ll probably smell funny, like vinegar or ammonia, and appear grayish in color with a slimy film on it. If your meat has been in an opened package for 3 to 5 days, it’s time to throw it out. If it’s unopened, deli meat will stay good for two weeks. Check that “Sell By” date: ideally, your deli meat should be eaten within 7-10 days of that date.
6. Expired Chicken
Enter that salmonella I mentioned earlier. Salmonella poisoning can send you straight to the hospital. If the chicken is already contaminated with it, eating it expired or under cooked compounds the risk of getting sick. You’ll know pretty quickly if something is wrong. In addition to feeling like you’ve got the stomach flu, you’ll feel fatigued and experience dizziness. It’s way better to be safe than sorry when it comes to bad chicken—consult a doctor right away.
• What you should know: Here’s where the expiration date on the packaging really is a hard rule. Never purchase or eat expired chicken. Raw chicken will have a foul smell (pardon the pun) if it’s expired, too. Never eat a piece of cooked chicken that looks pinkish inside—this indicates that it’s under cooked.
If you DO eat some under cooked or expired chicken, stop eating and drinking for a while to give your tummy a break, since the bad chicken could wreak havoc on your digestive system. After a while, take small sips of water to prevent dehydration.
7. Expired Potatoes
Have you ever pulled out your bag of potatoes and noticed some yellowish or greenish sprouts growing on them? This means that your potatoes have gone bad to some degree. If you eat a raw or expired potato, you could experience stomach rumbles and bloating. A potato with yellow sprouts can cause stomach flu symptoms, nausea, stomach cramps, and headaches. If you’ve eaten a lot of raw or rotten potatoes, you may need to go to the hospital due to alkaline poisoning!
• What you should know: If your potatoes have yellow sprouts on them, this means that they’ve developed those poisonous alkaloids. Potatoes are actually part of the nightshade family, which famously includes the Belladonna plant! Bad potatoes can grow mold and mildew too. You can cut out the yellow sprouts and eyes of the potato and still safely eat it cooked,but if it has the sprouts AND mold, you should probably throw them out. If the sprouts are green, don’t eat them at all—it’s not worth risking your family’s health.
8. Expired Fish
There are two kinds of poisoning that you can get from eating rancid fish: scombroid and ciguatera. Scombroid is the result of improperly refrigerating fish from the time it’s caught to when it gets to your table. Ciguatera is the result of eating fish that eat other fish that have come in contact with the ciguatera bacteria.
Scombroid will cause histamine-type symptoms—think of how you’d feel with allergies, plus migraines and fatigue. Ciguatera, in addition to flu-like symptoms, can cause joint aches, dizziness, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Most feel better within a few days, but in rare cases, symptoms can last for months!
• What you should know: Your nose is a pretty good indicator of whether your fish has spoiled, and it may also have a slimy or milky-white coating. But if your fish is already harboring the bacteria mentioned earlier, it may not necessarily give off a funky smell, and cooking the fish will not eradicate the dangerous bacteria.
Prevention is key: know how to store your fish! Keep raw fish cold, and keep already cooked fish hot. Like raw chicken, wash your hands with warm water and disinfecting soap before handling other food items. Well. Wasn’t that delightful? I just want to go eat some fish—sometime, I think.