How long are ketchup packets good for?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long are ketchup packets good for” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of ketchup packets. Moreover, we are going to discuss the different ways to spot bad ketchup packets.

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

How long are ketchup packets good for?

Ketchup is a shelf stable product that can be stored for one or more years at ambient temperature. It must be refrigerated once opened and eaten within eight weeks.

The microbial stability of tomato ketchup is based on pH (pH lower than 4.0), on pasteurization or addition of preservatives. The product undergoes several relatively important heat treatments. (1)

Can I store the ketchup packets in the freezer?

Yes, ketchup can be frozen. There is no studies pointing out any prejudice to freezing ketchup

What is the optimum temperature to store ketchup?

You should always store your open ketchup at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore it is always advised to store ketchup at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time.

Unopened packs can be stored at room temperature as it is a shelf stable product (1, 2)

Are ketchup packets safe to use after the best by date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the ketchup packets refers to the quality rather than safety so the ketchup packets don’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date.

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality of ketchup but you can still use ketchup packets that are past this date as long as they were stored properly and there is no leakage in the packet.

Tomato ketchup is considered to be a shelf-stable product. Low pH, addition of sodium benzoate and heating of the mixture during the manufacturing process contribute to the shelf stability of ketchup (3)

What are the signs of ketchup spoilage?

There are a couple of indicators that point out bad ketchup packets. You should consider the appearance, color, smell, and taste of the ketchup along with the condition of the ketchup packet to reach a  final verdict on whether or not they have gone bad.


The presence of off-colors or the presence of molds is the indication that your ketchup has gone bad. (2, 3)


The overheated or expired products have typical brown color and various off-flavors and oxidized flavor caused by low molecular compounds produced by oxidation of carotenoids and other lipids.  (2)



If you notice some off-smells (like a striking sour smell) or something that does not quite smell like ketchup itself while taking a sniff test of ketchup then it is the indication that your ketchup has gone bad.


If you feel some off-flavors or slightly bitter after-taste after tasting your ketchup, then it is an indication that your ketchup is past its prime age.

Bulging packet

In the case of the unopened packet of ketchup that has been there for a long time, if you notice a bloated packet, it is an indication that your ketchup has gone bad. The reason behind the bulging is the gasses that are formed as a result of microbial contamination. 

If microbes somehow found their way to your ketchup and have spoiled it then the best thing you should do is to discard it. (3)

Can you get sick by consuming expired ketchup?

Consuming spoiled ketchup can result in food poisoning, which can lead to various symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, and diarrhea. 

Certain fungal toxins, including aflatoxin, pose a risk to the liver and may cause early symptoms like fever, malaise, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and hepatitis. However, instances of acute poisoning are uncommon.

Additionally, decreased appetite and nausea can serve as indicators of food poisoning, typically lasting no more than a day or two. If these symptoms persist, it is recommended to seek medical attention.(4, 5)

Other FAQs about Ketchup that you may be interested in.

Does ketchup go bad?

What happens If you eat expired ketchup?

Can you get sick from eating expired ketchup?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long are ketchup packets good for” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of ketchup packets. Moreover, we discussed the different ways to spot bad ketchup packets.


  1. Rajchl, A., Voldřich, M., Čížková, H., Hronová, M., Ševčík, R., Dobiáš, J., & Pivoňka, J. . Stability of nutritionally important compounds and shelf life prediction of tomato ketchup. Journal of Food Engineering, 99(4), 465–470. 2010.
  2. Kumar, Vishal & Kumar, Lalit & Kumar, Kapil & GOYAL, S. & Kumar, Amit & Jain, Garima.  Physico-chemical and quality evaluation of tomato ketchup during storage. South Asian Journal of Food Technology and Environment. 01. 250-255. 2015.
  3. BJORKROTH, K. J., & KORKEALA, H. J.  Lactobacillus fructivorans Spoilage of Tomato Ketchup. Journal of Food Protection, 60(5), 505–509.1997.
  4. BM Lund, SJ O’Brien, Public Health Measures: Food Safety in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings, Encyclopedia of Food Safety, Academic Press, 2014, 140-148.
  5. Kumar P, Mahato DK, Kamle M, Mohanta TK, Kang SG. Aflatoxins: A Global Concern for Food Safety, Human Health and Their Management. Front Microbiol. 2017

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