Is It Safe to Eat Expired Oats?

Is It Safe to Eat Expired Oats?
Is It Safe to Eat Expired Oats?

It is a wise decision to include oats in your diet. Oats are cheap, easy to prepare, savory oats can be made easily, and they taste good. and very beneficial to you. Yes, oats have many health benefits, including scientifically proven benefits for managing diabetes, heart health, and preventing and treating constipation.

I know you’re wondering if it’s okay to eat expired oats, though, if you bought a big package and didn’t finish it before the expiration date written on the package. It’s probably safe, to put it briefly. There are some restrictions, though. Continue reading to find out when to use old oats, when to discard them (or compost them), and how to store them to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

Is Eating Oats After the Packaged Date Safe?

The first thing to know about the date on your oat package is that it’s probably not your expiration date. “Let me clarify a common misconception: dates on food packaging do not always indicate when food goes bad,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, the author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table and the creator of Foods that have passed their expiration date may not taste as well, or they may not be as crisp, soft, or have any other texture that was popular before the stated date.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are unsafe or that they will make you ill, even though the color, texture, or flavor may change slightly. “With less water and moisture, “dry foods, like oats, are less likely to cause food poisoning and the growth of bacteria,” according to Taub-Dix. ” However, there are some foods that should be consumed right around the date on their package.

Packaged food comes with a variety of date stamps, each of which has a slightly different meaning, which only serves to complicate matters. Furthermore, according to the FDA, the majority of the dates on food labels are “not based on exact science.” And according to the FDA, manufacturers are not even required by federal law or regulation to label packaged food with a quality-based date, unless it is infant formula. The following list of food “expiration” dates includes some general explanations of what they mean.

  • “Best if used by/best before” dates serve as a quality indicator. I looked at a dozen oat packages, and all but one of them had some variation of this phrase (“best if used by,” “best by,” or “best if used before”). “On packaged oats, the best-by date is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the oats will stay at their best quality; it is not a safety date,” clarifies Janice Revell, co-founder of, a website that helps consumers understand how long various foods will stay fresh. If you eat the oats after this date, they might not taste as good or have the same texture, but they shouldn’t be bad or cause you to become ill.
  • Use-by dates refer to the last day that the product’s manufacturer, based on quality rather than safety, recommends using it. Infant formula is an exception to this rule; it should not be used after the use-by date. Upon inspecting the oat packages, I discovered a single “use by” stamp.
  • “Sell-by” dates inform retailers of when a product should be taken off the shelves; they are intended more for the retailer than the customer. This label wasn’t on any of the oats I looked at, but if it is, your oats should be good for about two years after this date.

How to identify bad oats

You’ll have to use your senses to determine whether it’s a good idea to eat the oats because the date on the package may not tell you much. Your eyes can see mold and discolored food; your nose can smell odors that show changes in quality; and your hands can feel a slimy texture, Taub-Dix explains.

Revell continues, “The best way is to smell and look at the oats; if oats develop an off odor or appearance, or if mold or insects appear, they ought to be thrown away.” If your oats pass all other sensory tests, they should be safe to cook and eat. However, make sure you enjoy a small taste before consuming a larger portion. ” According to Taub-Dix, “it’s best to throw the food out when in doubt.”

Is it safe to eat expired oats? after the expiration date?

Oats can be safe to eat for several months to even a few years past the date on the package, provided they’ve been stored properly, Revell explains. According to Taub-Dix, generally, dry grain and cereal types of products can be consumed beyond their freshness dates if there are no visible signs of moisture, mold, or an unpleasant odor, which can be a sign of rancidity.

She continues by saying that dried oats usually keep for two years, and you should trust your instincts to determine how long you can keep them after the date on the package. If your container shows a date from five years ago, I’d ditch it and go out and get yourself another that you’ll finally use, she continues.

Does the kind of oats affect their shelf life?

According to Taub-Dix and Revell, the typical shelf life of oats is two years, but flavored and instant oats may not last as long. Instant oats may spoil more quickly than other types of oats because they are rolled thinner, which makes them more susceptible to moisture and spoilage, Revell claims. Instant and flavored oats, according to Taub-Dix, should last roughly six months, but as always, use your senses and sound judgment.

How to store oats for maximum shelf life

Depending on how and when you intend to use grains, there are different ways to store them. Oats can be kept in your pantry just fine, but in the long run, it’s better to store them in the freezer. Your oats will stay free of mold and insects if you freeze or refrigerate them.

If you would rather store them in the pantry, put them in a food-grade bucket or an airtight container. If you want to keep them dry, you can also store them in a food-grade silica gel packet. The temperature in the room should not be higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity should be no more than 12.5%. It is best to store cooked oatmeal in the refrigerator and consume it within five days because it has a shorter shelf life than dry oats.


The bottom line

After the date on the package, oats are typically safe to consume. But throw them out and start over if they look or smell off. Utilize them in recipes such as oatmeal cookies and overnight oats, and store them in an airtight container away from heat and moisture.

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