Can cheese go bad if left out?

In this brief study, we will answer the question, “can cheese go bad if left out?” We will also explore cheese storage and cheese deterioration.

Can cheese go bad if left out?

Yes, cheese can go bad if storage conditions are not appropriately followed. Concerning the length of time a cheese may be kept out for, softer cheeses can be left out for two to four hours, while harder cheeses can be left out for as long as eight hours. In addition to this, the fat contained inside the cheese will begin to leak out, giving the surface an oily appearance and altering the texture. It should be noted that this is based on an average room temperature of about 70 degrees.

However, if your house is maintained cool, matured cheeses may be left out for many hours or even a whole day without spoiling. It is possible to look at it from the perspective of anything that cannot be eaten within a day of being refrigerated. These include soft, matured cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, and other so-called “bloomy-rinded” types; semi-firm cheeses such as Monterey Jack, cheddar, and Swiss; and hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Romano, and pecorino. Given that the majority of people keep their houses warmer than 59 degrees Fahrenheit, the refrigerator is the second-best choice to consider.

Expired cheese

If you take into consideration how cheese is made and aged, you may be surprised to know that it is the kind of food that does not often deteriorate after its expiration date has passed. Even if a little bit of mold has developed, eating “expired” cheese is usually considered safe – as long as the mold has been removed and the cheese smells good, to begin with. Semi-hard cheeses and semi-soft cheeses should be OK to eat for two to four weeks beyond their expiration date if you have them on hand.

The moisture content in soft cheeses such as feta and brie makes it more difficult to remove mold than it would be with hard cheeses such as cheddar. The FDA states that even if the mold or slime is removed, the presence of residual bacteria may provide a risk of foodborne disease.

How long can you keep different types of cheese fresh?

Hard cheese 

Cheddar and parmesan cheeses may be stored for up to four months in the refrigerator and eight months in the freezer if they have not been opened. Hard cheese may be eaten for up to six weeks after it has been opened.

Medium-hard cheese

Cheeses that fall between the hard and soft categories, such as gruyere and gouda, may be kept in the refrigerator for two to three weeks after they have been opened, depending on their consistency. For as long as the packaging is still intact, this kind of cheese may be stored in the freezer for up to two months.

Soft cheese

As a result of their high moisture content, cheeses like brie, feta, and camembert are among the cheeses that deteriorate the most quickly. The cheese must be eaten within a fortnight of it being opened to be considered fresh.

Other FAQs about Cheese which you may be interested in.

How to know if paneer is spoiled

Cheese Safety: What to Look for and What to Avoid?

Using the following criteria, you may decide whether your cheese is safe to consume or if it should be pastured:

  1. Mold introduced during the ripening process is not an issue, but mold that grows on the exterior of the cheese may signal that the cheese is not entirely safe to eat. However, in the case of hard cheeses, this does not necessarily indicate that the cheese should be thrown away since the mold is unlikely to have permeated the whole piece of cheese. 
  1. If you see mold on the surface of hard cheeses such as Parmesan or Cheddar, you should cut away at least an inch of the cheese around and below the mold to preserve the cheese. Soft cheeses such as ricotta, cream cheese, goat cheese, and shredded cheese, on the other hand, are not subject to the same restrictions. It is best to discard these soft cheeses if you see any signs of mold at all since mold may spread quickly through them.
  1. Choosing and storing cheese in the right manner may assist to keep it fresh and free of degradation over time. When selecting cheese, look for a smooth texture that is free of cracks or mold, and that has not been hardened or discolored. When you go home, put it in the refrigerator right away. Before continuing, make sure that the cheese is well wrapped to protect it from mold spores and odors that may present in your refrigerator. It may be wrapped in plastic wrap or you can use a two-layer technique, first wrapping it in parchment or wax paper and then gently covering it with aluminum foil.


In this brief study, we answered the question, “can cheese go bad if left out?” We also explored cheese storage and cheese deterioration.


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.