Since most foods become biohazard to people after a while, bread being no exception, expiration dates are designed with some reasonable excess of time. But for how long exactly is it safe to eat expired bread? There’s no one exact answer, but some ways to tell if your expired bread is still safe to consume do exist.
How long is it safe to eat expired bread?
Unless your store-bought bread is stuffed with preservatives, it has a shelf life of 5-7 days, after which it starts changing taste, getting stale, and most importantly, growing mold.
This is a process, so if your bread is 2-3 days past the expiration date it’s likely OK to eat it.
But be cautious: any trace of mold in or on your bread is a sign you shouldn’t even try it. Also, mold starts growing before you can see it, so any change is a bad sign, be it an odd taste or smell.
What happens if you eat expired bread?
If your bread is slightly or borderline expired and was properly stored, you’ll probably just have a meal with it. It won’t feel like fresh bread at that point, but unless the taste or smell is off, you’ll eat expired bread safely. Eating stale bread is not the best for your digestion, but it depends on how stale it is – if it’s moderate dryness, you can reverse it.
But if you keep an expired loaf around for longer, things get riskier, and possible outcome includes poisoning, risks of exposing your respiratory system to mold, and in extreme cases, foodborne diseases with fatal possibilities.
Eating moldy bread can lead to poisoning with such symptoms as nausea, stomach aches, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. The mold provides a great moist environment for bacteria, and poisoning with those can be intense.
People with weakened lungs or chronic respiratory problems are at deadly risk if they eat moldy bread. If you have just a small suspicion about mold, do not eat bread like this! Best if you get read of any expired bread before it gets moldy, it might be enough to inhale the spores for you to end up in ER.
On rare occasions, expired bread (or made of contaminated ingredients) can cause infections that go beyond classic poisoning and are way more dangerous.
These are diseases like gastroenteritis caused by salmonella or other dangerous infections.
This one is usually on a manufacturer, but all dangers skyrocket further past the expiration date.
Is it safe to eat expired bread if it looks fine?
Fine-looking bread with a good smell and taste and expiration under one week is most likely to be normal. If you happen to store some bread slightly past its shelf life, there is no harm if you eat bread like this.
Is stale bread unsafe to consume?
There are different stages of staleness. Bread that is kind of dry but not yet stone-firm can be used for cooking or revived by a toaster or an oven. Fully stale bread is not good for eating under any circumstances and should be thrown away or, if you keep a garden, be composted.
How far past the expiration date is it OK to eat expired bread?
The answers to this will vary depending on how you store bread and how fast it tends to spoil.
How long does bread last at room temperature?
Store-bought bread that is not full of preservatives, as well as homemade bread, can be kept at room temperature for 3-7 days before it starts spoiling, but not all is lost about 10 days past the expiration date. Best if you keep it in a bread box, but a brown paper or cloth bag will do.
How long does bread last in the fridge?
The ways that the fridge affects bread are not as obvious as you might think. Yes, it will slow down molding and prolong an expiration date, but the fridge makes bread taste stale faster than if you keep it in a bread box. To avoid this, keep refrigerated bread in an airtight plastic wrap.
How long does bread last in a freezer?
A freezer is what can incredibly prolong the life of bread, and it keeps it fresh for about 6 months. Of course, it’s only true if you keep it in a perfectly airtight wrapping. Freezer-bitten bread is a pretty disgusting thing.
Is 10 days old bread safe to eat?
10 days old bread is probably already not the tastiest, but you can eat it without risking being poisoned. Yet, you should be attentive to any changes in it, since mold spores are ready to grow now. It probably already lost its initial fresh appeal, but focus on the smallest signs of spoiling.
Can you eat bread that is 2 weeks old?
Two weeks past the expiration date is when things start getting risky, and you may eat moldy bread without knowing it.
Pay close attention to its qualities and be ready to throw this bread away if anything is off.
If the bread is not spoiled, still you might want to do something that involves heating it, like toasting or baking. Anyways, it’s pointless to store bread like this any longer, so use it fast.
Can you eat one-month-old bread?
Eating expired bread that is one month old is hard due to bread usually being both disgusting and dangerous. Unless you kept it in a freezer. The life of bread that you freeze properly stops the day you do it, so it’s going to be as fresh as if you just bought it.
Does flour expire at the same rate as bread?
No. It is the liquid inside that makes bread expire fast. The flour is dry, therefore mold growth in it is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean mold spores don’t affect flour at all. In bad storing conditions, molding can happen, so keep flour in a dry and dark place.
What can be done about expired bread
While moldy bread is beyond saving, there are enough ways to put bread to good use past its expiration date. To make bread fresh enough past the expiration date, or use it more creatively, you can do a few things that also work in favor of food safety.
Reviving stale bread
To get rid of moderate staleness, you can try two things that bring stale bread to a new life. Both include heating, so it will be safer to eat bread like this.
Toast your bread
Heavy staling makes bread expire as well as molding does, but toasts made of stale bread are almost as good as ones made of fresh bread. And if a toast is just slightly on the dry side, isn’t it what we want from it?
Rebake your bread in the oven
Sprinkle some water on the loaf and put it in the 300 °F oven for about 8-10 minutes. This will recharge expired bread with liquid and sanitize it with heat.
Using expired bread in recipes
If you decide to eat expired bread that is not delicious enough on its own, you can use it for cooking some amazing meals.
Here are only a few examples of it, but excellent ones.
Bread pudding. Puddings are versatile and can save any leftovers, right? Slightly stale expired bread that would otherwise be thrown away is even better for this than fresh bread.
French onion soup. Traditionally, this wonderful soup requires a piece of baked toast with cheese on top of it. To bake it, you put your sliced bread in the 450 °F hot oven – safe and yummy afterward.
French toast. This is the easiest way, as it involves frying and not baking. Again, slight staleness is desirable for French toast, since your bread slices are going to get all wet, and need to keep their shape.
Is it safe to use expired breadcrumbs?
One more way not to waste bread past its expiration date is to make bread crumbs out of it. You can use those as a topping for mac and cheese or something like that. Again, you can eat expired bread crumbs with the same level of cautiousness as you eat expired bread – avoid visible mold and pay attention to your senses.
Can you still eat bread after the expiration date?
Expiration dates make things clear in the grocery, but you can still eat slightly expired bread unless it got seriously stale, or it’s visibly bad bread with the signs of molding.
If eating expired bread does not feel right, but the bread itself seems good, you can use it for cooking hot dishes like bread pudding or hot toast.
What happens if you eat expired bread?
If you happen to have eaten bread that is way past its expiring date or developed a dangerous extent of molding, there is a possibility of food poisoning with a range of stomach symptoms. In the worst (but rare) cases, you might develop a serious foodborne disease caused by bacteria supported by molding.
Furthermore, beware that mold present on bread can compromise your respiratory health, as it’s a type of fungus that can grow inside your lungs.
But the bread, which is a week past its best-by date, can surely be safely eaten. Bread that was kept in a freezer, while stored properly in an airtight container, has a long expiry date and is safe to eat.
So, in most cases, you can safely eat expired bread in the first 5-7 days after its use-by date if it does not show signs of mold present. Consuming bread 10 days past the expiration date is exponentially riskier. And eating bread older than that is straight out life-threatening and can have bad consequences for simple food poisoning.