Can you get sick from eating expired spices?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you get sick from eating expired spices” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can get sick from eating expired spices. Moreover, we are going to discuss tips to properly store spices.

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

Can you get sick from eating expired spices?

When it comes to spices, you do not get sick from eating expired spices as long as they were stored appropriately and there is no moldy growth on them. 

Spices are aromatic natural products who no doubt have a long shelf life but there is a certain time for which they can retain their best flavor and aroma and afterward their flavor and aroma begin to fade.

Thus we can say that spices do not go bad in a conventional way and you won’t get sick after eating old spices but they won’t have their characteristic aroma, color, flavor, and overall quality.

Thus spices tend to lose their flavor and aroma over time and you will not get the same great flavor and aroma from old spices as the one you get from the fresh ones.

If the spices have expired and have significantly lost their aroma and flavor, it is better to toss them out but if you still insist on using them, then surely their consumption won’t cause any significant health problem. 

The spices that are long past their expired date won’t impart the same great taste or aroma to your food. So if you are okay with using flavorless spices or the ones with a weak aroma, you can go ahead and use them.

Ground or powdered spices like powdered ginger, ground cinnamon, chili powder, turmeric powder, etc. generally last for about 2-3 years when kept in a cool, dry, and dark place in an air-tight container. 

Whole spices like cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, etc. last for about 4 years easily when they are kept in an air-tight container or bottle in a cool, dry, and dark place. Thus you can easily store your whole spices (uncrushed) in an air-tight bottle or container in a cool and dry corner of your pantry. They have a longer shelf life than ground spices as the ground spices have a larger surface area therefore they lose their aroma and flavor fast as compared to whole spices.

On the other hand dried herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, dill, cilantro, etc. lats for about 1-3 years when stored properly in an air-tight container in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat.

Certain indicators distinguish old spices from fresh ones. You should consider the texture, color, aroma, and flavor of your spices to reach a final verdict on whether or not they are still fit for consumption.

Smell

The absence of the characteristic aroma or the weak aroma of the spices is the indication that the particular spice is past its prime time.

Texture

If you see some clumps formed in your ground spices, this can indicate that your spice won’t have the same flavor or aroma anymore. The reason behind the formation of these clumps in ground spices is that the moisture found its way inside your ground spices container. This can happen if you have not stored the spices properly or have used a wet spoon to scoop the spices out of the container.

Color

In the case of spices like ground cinnamon, you will notice that the fresh ground cinnamon is bright in color while if you spot dull ground cinnamon or if there are greyish hues in it then it means that the cinnamon is past its prime time.

Taste

If the flavor of the spices is too weak, then it is an indication that the particular spice is past its prime time and it is better to discard it and use the fresh spice in place of it.

Tips to properly store spices

  1. Moisture is an enemy of the freshness and flavor of the spices therefore spices should be kept in air-tight containers or air-tight jars to reduce their exposure to air.
  1. You should never use wet spoons to take the spices out of their containers or jars.
  1. It is best practice to store spices at room temperature as fluctuations in temperature can negatively affect the rich flavors of spices. Moreover, do not store them near a stove or air conditioner. 
  1. It is not advised to store the ground spices in the refrigerator as the moisture content of the refrigerator is quite high and it can reduce the quality of the spices. 
  1. Spices 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 spices jar or bottle and seal it again as soon as possible after scooping out the spices that you need.
  1. Do not store your spices jar or container in direct sunlight which can otherwise degrade the quality of spices.

You can read about different types of spices here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you get sick from eating expired spices” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can get sick from eating expired spices. Moreover, we discussed tips to properly store spices.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/do-spices-expire#:~:text=Expired%20dried%20spices%20likely%20won,aroma%20and%20flavor%20over%20time.

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/food-contaminated-spices-found-amid-food-imports-082813

https://www.purewow.com/food/do-spices-go-bad

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/blog/3076/do-spices-expire.html

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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