Can you eat cream cheese past the expiration date?

In this article we are going to answer: can you eat cream cheese past the expiration date, what is the expiration date, what is the best-by date, what happens if you eat cream cheese past the best-by date, and how long does cream cheese last and how to store cream cheese correctly. 

Can you eat cream cheese past the expiration date?

Yes as long as the cream cheese isn’t spoiled yet. Store-bought cream cheese typically comes with an expiration date, and it generally has a longer shelf life compared to homemade cream cheese.

Cream cheese is a delightful fresh dairy product known for its mild, creamy, and buttery flavor with a subtle tanginess. It lacks any bitter notes and boasts a smooth, creamy texture that can range from brittle to spreadable. Its glossy appearance adds to the appeal of this acid-coagulated fresh cheese. (1)

What is the expiration and best-by date?

The terms “expiry date” or “best before” date, as provided by the manufacturer, signify the period when the product is expected to be at its peak quality. 

Beyond this date, the food may not necessarily spoil or become unsafe to eat, but there’s a possibility it could lose its original texture or flavor. Proper storage is crucial for extending the shelf life of coconut milk and enjoying it for an extended period. (2)

How to tell If the cream cheese has gone bad?

These cheeses may exhibit certain defects, such as whey separation during storage and a grainy, chalky texture, especially in lower fat varieties. Improper storage or packaging of cream cheese can lead to lipid oxidation.

The texture and flavor of cream cheese are greatly influenced by its pH level. If the pH is too high (above 4.7), the cheese will be overly soft and lacking in flavor. Conversely, a very low pH (below 4.6) can result in a too-grainy texture and excessively acidic taste.

Molds play a role in fermentation, spoilage, and mycotoxin production. If you notice discolored patches or spots on the cream cheese due to mold growth, or if it becomes slimy to the touch, it has gone bad and should be discarded. 

Similarly, crumbly cream cheese indicates a loss of quality and flavor, warranting disposal. If the cream cheese emits a sour smell or tastes sour, it is best to dispose of it promptly. (3, 4)

What are the health implications of consuming contaminated cream cheese?

Consuming spoiled cream cheese can lead to food poisoning, resulting in various symptoms. 

These may include lesions occurring from the oral cavity to the caecum, difficulty in swallowing, stomach pain, fever, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. These symptoms usually manifest 2-5 days after ingesting the contaminated food. (4)

How long does cream cheese last?

The cold-pack product has a relatively short shelf life of just a few weeks, while the hotpack cheese can last up to 3 months when stored in the refrigerator. 

However, if cream cheese is improperly stored or packaged, it is susceptible to lipid oxidation, which can significantly reduce its overall shelf life.(3)

The longevity of homemade cheese is determined by the shortest expiration date among its ingredients. 

While the additional ingredients contribute to the flavor of the homemade cream cheese, they may also have an impact on its shelf life, potentially limiting it. (1)

How to store cream cheese correctly?

Similar to buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir, cream cheese should always be stored in the refrigerator. It is commonly available in plastic tubs, cartons, or wrapped in metal foil. 

Additionally, cream cheese is frequently blended with a variety of flavors, herbs, and spices to offer a wide range of options to consumers.(3) Advancements in packaging technologies have significantly reduced mold spoilage in cheeses. Antimycotic agents can be applied as coatings on packaging materials to inhibit mold growth. 

Commercially sold cheeses often utilize vacuum and modified atmosphere packaging to exclude oxygen, further limiting mold growth. Typically, a modified atmosphere containing over 50% carbon dioxide and less than 0.5% oxygen effectively prevents spoilage molds from thriving.

However, certain challenges may arise, such as package leakage and pinhole defects, which can allow molds to grow and cause spoilage. To avoid this, it’s essential to tightly seal the package once opened. 

In cases where the original cream cheese packaging lacks a resealable option, consider transferring it to an airtight container or a freezer bag. Alternatively, you can wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil, securing it with rubber bands to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage. (4)

Other FAQs about Cream cheese that you may be interested in.

Can you eat mascarpone without cooking it?

Can you eat cream cheese frosting without refrigeration?

Does cream cheese have eggs?


This article answered can you eat cream cheese past the expiration date, what is the expiration date, what is the best-by date, what happens if you eat cream cheese past the best-by date, how long does cream cheese last, and how to store cream cheese correctly. 


  1. Wolfschoon Pombo, A. F.  Cream cheese: Historical, manufacturing, and physico-chemical aspects. International Dairy Journal, 117, 2021.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Website. Washington, DC. Food Product Dating. 2019.
  3. Lucey, J. A.  Cheese Acid- and Acid/Heat Coagulated Cheese. Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences, 698–705. 2011
  4. Sørhaug, T.  Yeasts and Molds Spoilage Molds in Dairy Products. Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences, 780–784. 2011.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!