Do condiments really expire?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Do condiments really expire?”, look at shelf lives of some common condiments, and list down foods you should not eat past the expiry date.

Do condiments really expire?

Yes, condiments do expire but they have a long shelf life as they are shelf stable foods. They can remain in the pantry for a long time given that they remain unopened.

They can be kept in a dry, cool place before they have been opened. After you have opened them, keep them in the fridge so that they do not spoil faster.

The ‘expiry date’, ‘best before date’, and ‘use by date’ are just dates provided by the manufacturer that tell us how long a product will remain in its best condition with optimum flavor. 

Food or condiments usually do not go bad past these dates. They may lose their taste or freshness. They also might change their texture but they are usually safe to eat.

If a certain product has gone bad, you will be able to tell by looking at its texture. You can also give it a sniff test for any bad smell. The taste will also tell you if it has spoiled. 

Condiments are not easily perishable items. They retain their taste and texture for longer periods of time because they have preservatives added to them. 

However it is best not to ignore the expiry date because it is better to have an idea about the time a product can go bad so as to avoid getting food poisoning.

What is the shelf life of different condiments? 

In this section, we are going to mention the shelf lives of different condiments before and after they have been opened. 

CondimentUnopened(in the pantry)Opened(in the refrigerator)
Ketchup12 months6 months
Chili garlic sauce12 months6 months
Barbeque sauce12 months4 months
Mayonnaise 2-3 months2 months
Mustard 12 months12 months
Pickles12 months1-2 weeks
Salsa 12 months1 month
Olives 12-18 months2 weeks
Salad dressings10-12 months3 months

As you can see, unopened condiments last much longer than opened ones. This is because once they have been opened, they can catch bacteria which can then grow and start spoiling them.

Learn about the shelf lives of some more condiments here.

What items should not be eaten past their expiry date?

Although a lot of food items can be consumed safely past expiry, we will list down some foods you should throw out after expiry because they can make you sick.

Sometimes texture and smell can be deceiving so while you are thinking your food is safe to eat, it may in fact be dangerous. This is because certain bacteria, even when present in a large sum, does not alter the way your food looks or smells. 

Eating such food can lead to foodborne illness more commonly known as ‘food poisoning’.

Soft cheeses

Softer cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese, or cream cheese go bad very quickly. Harder cheeses like cheddar have a comparatively longer shelf life because their hard texture makes it difficult for bacteria to penetrate.

Cold pressed juices

Cold pressed juices should be consumed as quickly as possible. The unpasteurized ones have bacteria in them that can multiply and be harmful to the consumer if left out for too long.

Raw meat

Raw meat contains Salmonella that is responsible for food poisoning. So if the ‘use by’ date is getting closer, either freeze it or cook it and consume it. Otherwise it will go to waste.

Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce tend to have a harmful bacteria called E. coli. So consume it as soon as possible and throw it out past its expiry.


Shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels only remain safe to eat within 5 days of buying them. After that, they may just be a breeding ground for bacteria. So consume shellfish within 5 days of buying and throw it out after that.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do condiments really expire?”, looked at shelf lives of some common condiments, and listed down foods you should not eat past the expiry date.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.