Can m&ms go bad?

In this article, we will answer the question “can m&ms go bad?” and discuss the shelf life of m&ms, if you can eat m&ms after the expiration date and how to store m&ms properly.

Can m&ms go bad?

Yes, M&M’s can go bad. In addition to fat bloom, sugar bloom and loss / increase of moisture, oxidation and loss of flavor, M&M’s can be spoiled by poor handling or unsafe production control, which can lead to contamination by microorganisms (1,2,3).

Although being a shelf stable product, M&M’s is a chocolate product made with cocoa. According to studies, chocolate products can be spoiled by contaminated cocoa, which can contain mycotoxins, or toxins produced by fungi.

It has been also reported that chocolate confectionery has been infected by Salmonella through poor handling of the product. 

What is the shelf life of M&Ms?

The shelf life of M&M’s is, according to the manufacturer’s website, 6 to 9 months when stored in a cool and dark place (4), except for the 7g and 15g paper bags, which have a shelf life of 4 months.

When the package is preprinted, the shelf life can vary from 2 to 9 months. It is recommended to follow the expiration date printed on the product package and consume the product within the expiration date.

Can you freeze M&Ms?

Yes, you can store M&M’s. However, it is not recommended to freeze M&M’s (4), as freezing can accelerate the staling of the chocolate, in addition to causing fat bloom and lead to cracking of the confection (1).

Temperature fluctuations cause considerable quality reduction in chocolate products and should be avoided during the storage of chocolate. Besides, freezing can lead to increased moisture upon the migration of water from the freezer into the M&M’s, resulting in spoilage of the coating and loss of flavor.

How to store M&M’s properly?

  • M&Ms stored in a cold, dry environment will maintain their wonderful flavors for a longer time, while also keeping their freshness.
  • Do not store them at a high temperature.
  • M&Ms should be kept at a temperature of 75°F (6).
  • It is essential to keep them in an airtight container or their original packing to prevent deterioration and extend their shelf life.
  • Make sure to keep M&Ms covered in plastic wrap to prevent them from getting soggy.

How to know if M&Ms has gone bad?

To know if M&M’s has gone bad, you should be aware of the possible signs of spoilage (1):

Fat bloom: a grayish appearance or gray-white spots on the chocolate surface or center indicate the re-crystallization of the cocoa fat. It causes changes in the flavor and texture

Oxidation: the action of oxygen in the product lipids can lead to the generation of off-flavors and off-odors related to rancidity, resembling “cardboard flavor”

Sugar bloom: similar to fat bloom, although related to the migration of soluble sugars inside the chocolate, leads to discoloration of the product and is caused by increased moisture, causing loss of flavor and quality 

Is it okay to consume M&Ms after the expiration date?

Yes, it is okay to consume M&M’s after the expiration date, unless there are signs of spoilage, such as discoloration and generation of off-odors and off-flavors (5).

Food products can usually be consumed after their expiration date when kept stored under proper conditions, as recommended to best preserve them. However, there is always a risk involved by consuming expired food when it was not stored correctly.

Therefore, follow the recommended storage instructions and avoid consuming M&M’s if you notice any alteration of the expected characteristics of the product. 

Consuming spoiled chocolate products can lead to foodborne illnesses (3).

Other FAQs about Chocolates that you may be interested in.

Is it safe to eat out-of-date chocolate?

What happens when adding cream to melted chocolate?

How do you make melted chocolate thinner?


In this article, we answered the question “can m&ms go bad?” and discussed the shelf life of m&ms, if you can eat m&ms after the expiration date and how to store m&ms properly.


  1. Man, CM Dominic, and Adrian A. Jones, eds. Shelf life evaluation of foods. Glasgow: Blackie Academic & Professional, 1994.
  2. Werber, D., Dreesman, J., Feil, F. et al. International outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg due to German chocolate. BMC Infect Dis, 2005, 5, 7. 
  3. Beuchat, Larry R., et al. Low–Water Activity Foods: Increased Concern as Vehicles of Foodborne Pathogens. J food protect, 2013, 76, 150-172.
  4. Top 10 FAQs. M & M´s.
  5. Food Product dating. United States Department of Agriculture.
  6. General questions. M & M´s.