Can You Eat Expired Protein Bars?


Depending on the country, manufacturers voluntarily put a “use by” or ” best before” on every protein bar. However, how do those dates affect the actual quality and taste? In this article, I will dive into is it safe to eat expired protein bars.

Can you eat expired protein bars?

In general, you can eat expired protein bars. The expiration date is the information that supplement companies are required to apply on the labels to inform consumers when they can expect the food to maintain its highest quality. It is not the prediction of when protein bar is no longer adequate to eat.

In other words, the expiry date isn’t based on any scientific measurements. It is an estimation.

Is It Safe To Eat Expired Protein Bars?

As a general rule, it is safe to eat expired protein bars. The expiration dates are just a manufacturer’s best estimate on how long their food will taste its freshest and it’s got little to do with how safe the food is to consume. Protein bar expiration date guarantees the best quality and flavor.

With the exception of foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, almost all of the foods that come in the package, and have an expiry date, this date is a guess (source).

It’s got nothing to do with the actual safety of the food.

Just because “best before,” “sell by,” and “use by” is on the labels, the date is actually not related to the product safety. It is only to inform the retailers and consumers about the highest expected quality and taste.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) “Ninety percent of Americans misinterpret the dates on labels” (source)

If you want to find more information about foods and their actual shelf life check out the USDA website here.

Can Protein Bars Go Bad?

Generally, protein bars can go bad. Any food item that is been manufactured will be perishable and can be spoiled at some point. Protein bars past their expiry date are still safe to eat but may change their flavor. They may not taste as fresh, be less soft, and drier.

So just because something went over the expiry date, it doesn’t mean you cannot eat it.

It won’t be as fresh or as tasty.

But it is still edible and won’t give you any health concerns. People think that they can get some sort of food poisoning from eating expiry dates but the truth is that food poisoning comes from contamination, not from the natural process of decay.

Related article: Can I Eat Protein Bars Without Working Out?

How Long Are Protein Bars Good After Expiration Date?

In general, protein bars are good several months after the expiration date. Due to their very low moisture content, protein bars are safe at room temperature. The best way to know whether protein bars have gone bad is by visually look for mold, yeast, or using your sense of smell for warning signs.

In other words, there is a difference between expired and spoiled.

Expired protein bars are still ok to eat. They can have:

  • Dry or crumbly texture
  • Different and unevenly redistributed color

Spoiled protein bar apart from looking differently will usually exhibit odd smells, and taste:

  • Unpleasant and suspicious smell
  • Weird taste

In other words, trust your taste buds and sense of smell. That’s more or less your guide on how to recognize if the protein bars are unsafe to eat.

What To Do With Old Protein Bars?

As a whole, you can still eat old protein bars. Manufacturers typically set the label with conservative expiry dates so you may not even notice any difference in quality, especially if the protein bar recently passes its date. You can further extend the life of protein bars by freezing them.

There are few ways how to avoid food waste and extend protein bar life:

  • Refrigerate

Keeping food in the fridge not only can extend its shelf life but also save up the vitamin content. Any food that is left at room temperature is subject to loss of certain vitamins like E, C, and A.

  • Freeze

Freezing is the ultimate anti-aging process for protein bars. Tossing bars into the freezer instead of the garbage bin can almost double the shelf life.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Protein Bars?

On average, the shelf life of a protein bar can be between 6-12 months depending on the type of protein that has been used during the manufacturing process. New technologies of extracting whey from cows’ milk like Nutrilac PB-8420 allow for extended shelf life and high-quality texture.

Also it will depend on the type of preservatives added.

Some of the commercial preservatives can really push the date further up where the more organic ones have lower life spam.

Buying Expired Protein Bars Online

As a whole, it is not recommended to buy expired protein bars online. Expired protein bars are generally safe to eat, but you don’t have any knowledge about how those protein bars were stored. Some bacteria thrive in warmer temperatures, and keeping the protein bars under the heat may reduce their quality.

In other words, you just don’t know if the seller actually maintained good storage practices.

Because those type of practices aren’t widely known, unless someone has food manufacture background.

Conclusion

  • Expiration date is only the estimation number of when the protein bar will lose their prime time
  • Food manufacturers practices aren’t regulated by law so those numbers aren’t based on science
  • It is still ok to eat protein bars past their expiration date but you need to use your own judgment in the assessment
  • You should not try to buy expired protein bars online because you have no way to find how people store them.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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