Can you get sick from eating expired chocolate?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you get sick from eating expired chocolate?”, how long does chocolate last, how does the quality of chocolate change after expiration, how to store chocolate, and how to tell if the chocolate has gone bad.

Can you get sick from eating expired chocolate?

Eating expired chocolate can make you sick it depends on the type of the chocolate, how the chocolate was stored, and how long has it expired. If it is dark chocolate and it has just crossed its expiry date, there is little to no chance of you getting sick after eating it.

However, eating milk chocolate that has been sitting for months past its expiry is a risky business. This is because milk chocolate contains less cocoa and more milk solids as compared to dark chocolate. This makes it more susceptible to spoilage. Whatever is the type of your chocolate, you must inspect it carefully for spoilage before eating it.

You will most likely come across a best-by-date printed on the chocolate wrapper. The expiry date is rarely seen. The best-by date is relevant to the quality of the enclosed product and not the safety. In simple words, the product will not be in its prime past the best-by but it will not be unsafe provided it was stored correctly.

How long does chocolate last?

The mentioned shelf-life periods are for best quality only.

(Opened or Unopened)Pantry Refrigerator Freezer 
Past printed date Past printed date Past printed date 
Chocolate 2-4 months 4-6 months 6-8 months 
Chocolate bars 2-4 months 4-6 months6-8 months 
Chocolate truffles 1-2 weeks 
Belgian chocolate 1-2 weeks 2-4 weeks 2-4 months 
Chocolate chips 2-4 months 6-8 months 2-3 years 

How does the quality of chocolate change after expiration?

If the chocolate has been sitting for too long, it often develops a white cast. This white film is a quality threat to your chocolate and not a safety issue. A fancy term, called fat bloom, is used to describe this phenomenon. 

Fat blooming informs you that your chocolate has been temperature abused. In other words, it was exposed to temperature extremes. These temperatures are high enough to melt the cocoa butter. 

The melted cocoa butter, when exposed to a cooler temperature, re-solidifies, and deposits on the surface of the chocolate to form a white film.

Another similar phenomenon called the sugar bloom can be observed in chocolate that has been exposed to moisture. The sugar dissolves in the excess moisture. 

The moisture evaporates when the chocolate is kept at  a comparatively warm temperature. Consequently, the sugar re-solidifies. Note that sugar bloom does not make your chocolate unfit for consumption. You can read more about sugar bloom here

How to store chocolate?

Ideally, chocolate should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Exposure to heat can quickly onset spoilage. Protect your chocolate from temperature fluctuations to prevent it from going bad. 

In addition to a cool pantry, you can also keep your chocolate in a kitchen cabinet provided that the cabinet is away from all sources of direct or indirect heat.

Once opened, wrap the chocolate tightly in plastic or put it in an air-tight container, or you can place plastic-wrapped chocolate in an air-tight container for bonus protection. Once opened, your best bet is to store the chocolate in the fridge.

The air-tight container and plastic wrapping will block the moisture and air from reaching your chocolate. Plus it will keep your chocolate from picking up bad odors.

If you want to keep your chocolate around for longer, consider freezing it. Although freezing will noticeably alter the texture and flavor of the chocolate.

How to tell if the chocolate has gone bad?

If the chocolate is moldy, there is no reason for you to keep it. Throw it away immediately. Moldy chocolate will also smell bad. If the chocolate smells and tastes off with cracks on its surface, discard it. 

Sometimes, the chocolate develops white spots all over its surface which are an indication that the chocolate is drying out. Such chocolate can b salvaged and used for cooking only.

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “Can you get sick from eating expired chocolate?”, how long does chocolate last, how does the quality of chocolate change after expiration, how to store chocolate, and how to tell if the chocolate has gone bad.

References 

http://www.eatbydate.com/other/sweets/chocolate-shelf-life-expiration-date/ 

https://www.livestrong.com/article/514556-is-expired-chocolate-edible/

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/blooming_chocolate#:~:text=Sugar%20bloom%20is%20the%20result,sugar%20crystals%20on%20the%20surface

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