Can out-of-date flour make you sick? (+3 Tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can out-of-date flour make you sick?”, and what is the shelf-life of flour?

Can out-of-date flour make you sick?

No, consuming out-of-date flour won’t make you sick unless It is moldy. Rancid flour contains certain harmful compounds produced during fat oxidation. 

However, consuming rancid flour in small amounts is unlikely to make you sick. But It won’t taste the same of course. If you consume moldy flour, you may experience symptoms of food poisoning like vomiting, diarrhea, fever and stomach pain, etc. 

The shelf-life of flour

Typically, most flour easily lasts 3-8 months at room temperature. When stored correctly, these flours last long past their expiry. Different factors like the type of flour, its ingredients, and storage methods impact the shelf-life of the flour. 

Pantry Fridge Freezer 
White flour Best by + 1 yearBest by + 2 yearsBest by + 2 years
Whole grain flour Best by + 3 monthsBest by + 6 monthsBest by + 1 year

Types of flour 

The source ingredients (wheat or arrowroot) and the processing method greatly affect the shelf-life of the flour. Whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf-life as compared to white all-purpose flour. 

White all-purpose flour is extensively processed during which oil-rich bran and germ are removed from the grain leaving behind a starchy endosperm. 

Whole wheat flour has the oil-rich bran and germ intact, hence, more susceptible to spoilage. This is because fats oxidize when exposed to light, moisture, or air. 

Gluten-free flours like almond and coconut flour have a significant amount of fat, thus, a shorter shelf-life. 

Gluten-free all-purpose flour which is made by mixing multiple nuts or root-based flours also has a shorter shelf-life due to increased moisture levels. 

Storage methods 

The rule of thumb is to store the flour somewhere dark, dry and cool. Flour has been labeled shelf-stable by the USDA, which means, It can be safely kept at room temperature. 

Moreover, refrigerating and freezing have resulted in a prolonged shelf-life of flours. For example,e all-purpose flour has a shelf-life of 6-8 months at room temperature but It can last 1 year or 2 years If refrigerated or frozen, respectively. 

To avoid lumping, let the refrigerated or frozen flour come to room temperature before using it.

How to tell If the flour has gone bad?

The best-by dates printed on the flour packages are not indicators of safety but quality. Flour maintains quality way past these printed dates If properly stored.

  • Give the flour a sniff. If It smells sour, stale, or musty instead of neutral, It has gone bad.
  • If the flour develops discolored patches, throw it away.
  • If the flour develops big clumps with organic growth, it should be discarded immediately.

Other FAQs about Flour which you may be interested in.

Does almond flour go bad?

Does coconut flour go bad?

Can I bake with out-of-date flour?

Refined flours

Refined flour lacks germ and bran. It includes pastry or cake flour, self-rising, all-purpose white flour, bread, and high-gluten flours. It also includes specialty flours and mixed flours like white rye, Italian-Style Flour, Pasta Flour Blend, Pastry Flour Blend, and Pizza Flour Blend.

What to look for: If the flour develops gray or yellow moldy patches, sour smell, or hard lumps, discard it. Same If you see any bugs.

How to decide: If the flour gives off a neutral smell and has a uniform cream color, It is good to go.

Usage past the best-by date: If the flour has been stored in an air-tight container in a freezer or safely in the fridge or at room temperature, It might be good to use. 

Whole grain flours 

These flours are not deprived of their bran and germ before milling. Whole grain flours typically include whole wheat or white whole wheat flour, pumpernickel (whole rye), medium rye, buckwheat, and different types of mixed flours like Whole Grain Flour Blend. 

What to look for: the flour should not show any signs of mold growth and infestation of bugs. It should be lump-free and give off a neutral to subtly sweet aroma.

How to decide: if the whole grain flours give off a strong unpleasant or sour odor, they are not fit for baking.

Usage past the best-by date: It is recommended to not use whole wheat flour past their expiry. Whole wheat flours are highly likely to have gone bad past this date since they are more susceptible to spoilage.

Gluten-free flours 

The same criteria that are used to judge the safety and quality of whole wheat flours can be used to test the gluten-free flours as well. 


In this article, we answered the question “Can out-of-date flour make you sick?”, and what is the shelf-life of flour?


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