Can you get sick from eating expired pasta?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you get sick from eating expired pasta” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of eating expired pasta. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store pasta.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Can you get sick from eating expired pasta?

When it comes to pasta, you do not get sick from eating expired dry pasta as long as it was stored properly. No doubt that dry pasta suffers textural and flavor changes and also tends to go rancid owing to the oxidation of fats but eating expired pasta does not pose health issues as long as there are no signs of spoilage associated with it.  

The exception to this is if the pasta has gone rancid for a long time and there are a large number of mycotoxins present in it (mycotoxins are produced by the molds), then consumption of such pasta can trigger symptoms ranging from nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea to convulsions, coma, an increased risk of cancer, and a weak immune system. 

It is worth mentioning that instead of “expiry date” you will find a “best before” or “best by” date written on the packet of the pasta.

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the package of pasta refers to the quality rather than safety so the pasta doesn’t go bad immediately after the best before date. 

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of pasta but you can still use pasta that is past this date as long as it was stored properly.

Thus, you should do a sensory evaluation of your pasta to reach a final verdict on whether or not it is still suitable to consume. 

Certain indicators point out bad pasta. You should consider the appearance and smell of the pasta to reach a final verdict on whether it is still suitable to consume or not.

Appearance

If you spot a mold or organic growth on your pasta (molds can grow on dry pasta only when it is stored in a humid environment for a long time or moisture somehow found its way to it) then the best thing you can do is to toss out such pasta.

If you spot weevils or bugs in your pasta jar then it is better to toss such pasta out due to cleanliness concerns.

Smell

If you smell something foul, rancid, or musty while taking a sniff test of your dry pasta then it is an indication of bad pasta and it is better to toss it out.

So you should consider the points mentioned above before deciding whether you are going to use pasta or not.

It is worth mentioning that in dry pasta spores of Bacillus Cereus can be present and they can even survive cooking. So if the pasta is cooked and left out in the open for too long, the spores can grow into bacteria. 

The bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins that can result in food poisoning that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Moreover, If your cooked old pasta had some meat or dairy product in it, then it can have bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter that can cause severe health issues including food poisoning. 

So in the case of cooked pasta, you should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of cooked pasta to reach a final verdict whether or not it has gone bad.

If you notice some discoloration in the cooked pasta like the appearance of a whitish or grayish hue, it is the indication that your cooked pasta has gone bad. If you can feel something slimy while touching the pasta then it means that your pasta has gone bad. Moreover, odd or off-smell is also an indication of bad pasta.

What is the shelf life of pasta?

Dry pasta has the longest shelf life and it lasts for about 1-2 years or even more if stored properly in a cool, dry, and dark corner of the pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.

While talking about the fresh store-bought pasta, it lasts for more than 1-2 days when stored in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fresh homemade pasta lasts for about 3 days when it is stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to the cooked pasta, it lasts for about 3-5 days in the fridge if stored properly at or below 40°F in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag.

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of pasta.

Tips to properly store pasta

  1. Moisture is an enemy of the freshness and quality of the dry pasta therefore pasta should be kept in air-tight containers or air-tight jars to reduce its exposure to air.
  1. Do not store your pasta in a humid environment.
  1. You should store pasta away from direct sunlight as the sunlight can speed up the rate of oxidation of fats.
  1. Dry pasta should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark place. A cool and dry corner of your pantry can serve this purpose nicely.
  1. Do not unnecessarily open the lid of the pasta jar or container and seal it again as soon as possible after scooping out the pasta that you need.
  1. Once you have opened the package of pasta, it is recommended to transfer the rest of the pasta in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag.
  1. You should never use a wet spoon to scoop out the dry pasta from the container.
  1. Always use clean utensils and spoons to scoop out dry pasta from its container.
  1. When it comes to fresh pasta, you should always store it properly in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  1. You should always store your cooked pasta at 40°F or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore it is always advised to store cooked pasta at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality.
  1. Never leave your opened cooked pasta on the kitchen counter for more than 2 hours or else the bacteria and other microbes will contaminate it.

You can read how to make pasta yourself here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you get sick from eating expired pasta” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of eating expired pasta. Moreover, we discussed tips to properly store pasta.

Citations

http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/fcs/2019/11/25/dont-let-rice-or-pasta-ruin-your-day/#:~:text=Uncooked%20rice%20and%20pasta%20can,spores%20can%20grow%20into%20bacteria.

https://www.foodnetwork.ca/kitchen-basics/photos/10-foods-you-can-eat-after-the-expiry-date/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-pasta-last-in-the-fridge#:~:text=Eating%20expired%20pasta%20comes%20with,before%20eating%20leftover%20cooked%20pasta.

https://www.bustle.com/life/145671-does-pasta-expire-heres-how-to-tell-if-your-noodles-have-gone-bad

https://www.doesitgobad.com/does-pasta-go-bad/

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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.

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