Does Gatorade go bad?

In this brief guide we will address the question, “Can gatorade go bad?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to store gatorade and how to tell if gatorade has gone bad. 

Can gatorade go bad? 

The chances of Gatorade going bad are usually rare even past its “best before” date. Nevertheless, you might notice a decline in the intensity of its flavor. This does not mean that the drink is expired. An unopened bottle of Gatorade can last pretty much indefinitely and is safe to consume when stored in a cool, dry place.

Isotonic sports drinks contain water and other nutrients that are similar in proportion to the fluids and nutrients in the blood. They quickly replace fluids that are lost by sweating and supply absorbable carbohydrates in the form of glucose, the body’s preferred energy source.

Gatorade is a flavored non carbonated, isotonic sports drink produced by PepsiCo. It is designed for consumption during physically active conditions to rehydrate and replenish carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids. 

Sports drinks like Gatorade are designed to help delay the onset of fatigue during exercise and help rehydrate athletes after training or competition by replenishing carbohydrates, electrolytes, protein, and other nutrients.(1)

 The chances of Gatorade going bad are usually rare, however, there are various microorganisms present in beverages as contaminants, yet few can develop in the presence of acidic and low oxygen conditions. (2)

Notably, yeast is the dominant microbe group present in fruit juices and drinks. Yeast and molds are considered to be vital microbes that cause deterioration. 

Yeast can proliferate in soft drinks and create an environment for other microorganisms to thrive. This is because the yeast can break down the weak acid preservatives, making it easier for other microbes to grow in the drinks. (2)

Among bacteria, acetic acid and lactic acid bacteria are the common microbes that cause spoilage in soft drinks. These are highly potential microbes to endure highly acidic conditions, which is a key factor in growing and developing in soft drinks (2) . 

What is the shelf life of Gatorade?

Gatorade is a shelf stable productor. According to gatorade.com.au it has a shelf life of 9 months. Shelf stable beverages can be safely stored at room temperature are safe to consume past the recommended use by date, but may experience slight changes in flavor or color as the product ages.(4) 

However, there’s no change to the efficacy of the beverage. If the bottle appears sealed tightly and has no obvious visible off-color or odor when opened, there’s no reason why it cannot be consumed past the recommended usage date on the neck of each bottle.(3)

What is the proper way to store Gatorade?

Gatorade should be kept in a clean, dry, and cool place. Exposure to high temperatures, direct sunlight, humidity, or other improper storage conditions may shorten the recommended shelf life of the product.

The survival, growth, and occurrence of microorganisms in drinks are affected by many different storage factors, including temperature, oxygen availability, composition, pH, and competing microbiota, among others.(5)

Once opened, Gatorade can maintain its fresh flavor for about 3-5 days in a refrigerator if it is tightly capped and refrigerated within 24 hours of opening. To keep Gatorade fresh, it should be refrigerated or chilled at a temperature between 45°F and 57°F after opening.

Gatorade should not be frozen, as it may affect the flavor. Freezing doesn’t affect the efficacy of the product, only its sensory attributes. More importantly, the content of the bottle may expand under frozen conditions resulting in distortion of the seal integrity of the plastic bottle.(3)

How to tell if gatorade has gone bad? 

Like mentioned before, sports drinks rarely go bad. One needs to know the key indicators that will help them identify whether the drink has gone bad or not. We will discuss ready made and powdered gatorade separately. (1, 3)

Bottled gatorade

Throw out the bottled gatorade when you see the following signs

  • Off smell: If your bottled gatorade is giving an off smell, you might want to discard it. Gatorade is a flavored drink which will definitely have a characteristic smell. So if you smell anything other than the flavor, your drink has probably gone bad.
  • Color: If the color of the drink has darkened or if you notice any uneven distribution of color within your bottled gatorade, it is probably best to throw it away. However, if you shake the bottle and the color is okay, then it is safe to drink.
  • Precipitation: If you notice any precipitation or turbidity formation in the drink towards the top, it means that your bottled gatorade has probably gone bad.
  • Gas formation – bloating: Bloating is a clear indication that bacteria are present. Gas production is a sign of bacterial activity. Since this gas cannot escape from the sealed bottle, it accumulates inside and causes the bottle to bloat. In these cases it should be immediately discarded.
  • Time in the fridge: If your gatorade has been sitting in the fridge for longer than a week, you might want to discard it. Powdered gatorade
  • Solid mass or clumping: This the most common teller for powders. If your powdered drink has clumps in it, it means that the drink has absorbed excessive moisture and it needs to be discarded. Any other solid mass is because of contamination during the processing of the powdered drink. It could be an impurity or a contaminant. Either way, you need to discard your powdered gatorade if that is the case. 
  • Bugs or mold: Another indicator is the presence of bugs or mold inside your container. They could be a result of improper storage and improper sealing. Note that it is important to seal the powdered gatorade after every time you use it. Just like clumping, mold can also develop along with the presence of moisture.

What are the risks of consuming spoiled gatorade?

Drinking spoiled Gatorade may cause emetic responses, gastrointestinal disorders, gastroenteritis, liver inflammation, allergic reactions, intoxication, acute and chronic toxicity (2)

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “does Gatorade go bad” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does Gatorade can be stored or does it changes over time and what are some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of Gatorade

References

  1. Jacqueline B. Marcus, Chapter 8 – Fluid Basics: Healthfully Meeting Fluid Needs: Healthy Fluid Choices, Roles and Applications, Culinary Nutrition, Academic Press, 2013, 333-370,
  2. Vijayalakshmi Shankar, et al, A review on microbial degradation of drinks and infectious diseases: A perspective of human well-being and capabilities, Journal of King Saud University – Science, 33, 2, 2021,
  3. PepsiCo, “FAQ,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://gatorade.ca/pages/faq [Accessed: 10-May-2023].
  4. Shelf Stable Food Safety, Available: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/shelf-stable-food . 2023
  5. H.M. Húngaro, et al. Food Microbiology, Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, Academic Press,213-231, 2014.

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