How long can pasta sauce last in the fridge? (factors)
In this article, we will answer the question “How long can pasta sauce last in the fridge?” and discuss what factors affect the shelf life of pasta sauce in the fridge, how to know if pasta sauce has gone bad and if you can eat pasta sauce after the expiration date.
How long can pasta sauce last in the fridge?
The shelf-life of the pasta sauce in the fridge can vary and depends on many fafactors, especially if the pasta sauce is a homemade or a commercial product.
For the production of commercial products and homemade tomato sauce, specific production guidelines must be followed to ensure the safe storage of the product as stated by the manufacturer.
In this way, the amount of salt, acid and sugar, as well as spices and stabilisers is controlled, as well as the cooking temperature and issues regarding safety to avoid contamination during production (2).
The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of different types of pasta sauces (1):
|Types of pasta sauce||In the pantry (unopened)||In the refrigerator (opened)||In the freezer|
|Tomato-based pasta sauce||12 to 18 months||5 to 7 days||3 to 4 months|
|Cream-based pasta sauce||6 to 12 months||3 to 4 days||3 to 4 months|
|Homemade canned tomato sauce||9 to 12 months||3 to 4 days||3 to 4 months|
|Homemade leftover pasta sauce||2 hours||3 to 4 days||3 to 4 months|
What affects the shelf life of pasta sauce in the fridge?
Many factors can affect the shelf life of pasta sauce in the fridge. In the case of commercial pasta sauces, the production process, which generally is done by thermal treatments at high temperatures, can effectively reduce the microbial load of the product, thus increasing the shelf life of the pasta sauce at room temperature (2).
Homemade sauces are made in an uncontrolled environment and the risks of contamination due to cross-contamination, poor handling practices and unhygienic conditions of the cooking place increase (3).
In addition, industrial products are packed into packaging with improved barriers against moisture and oxygen, such as laminated pouches, cans or glass packages, which protect food from external degrading factors.
In this way, homemade pasta sauce should be properly packed in airtight food containers to reduce the risk of contamination. It is necessary to cool the cooked pasta sauce leftovers to a temperature of 70 °F (21 °C) within 2 hours and to 40 °F (4 °C) or below within 4 hours after cooking (3).
In addition, commercial products contain acidifiers and other additives that help retard or inhibit the development of microorganisms, such as natural or chemical preservatives and stabilisers. A specific pH of the product must be achieved to ensure safety.
Homemade products can be added with spices, such as chilli and garlic, which have antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds, thus favouring the shelf life (3, 4).
How to know if pasta sauce has gone bad?
To know if pasta sauce has gone bad, it is necessary to look for the possible signs that indicate spoilage. The main signs are (4, 5):
- Generation of off-odours and off-flavours that are characterised as rancid, oxidised, ammonia-like, sour, fermented, metallic, and bitter;
- Discolouration, including the loss of the characteristic colour of the sauce and the growth of moulds;
- Formation of slime on the surface or the generation of gas due to fermentation caused by microorganisms;
- Changes in the texture, such as ropiness and phase separation.
Can you consume pasta sauce after the expiration date?
Yes, you can consume pasta sauce after the expiration date, as long as there are no indications of spoilage, such as unpleasant odours. Food that is no longer safe to consume generally has altered characteristics and should be discarded (6).
However, when kept unopened and correctly stored or when stored in the freezer at very low temperatures, the pasta sauce should be safe to consume after the expiration date.
If any signs of spoilage are present in the pasta sauce, it should not be consumed. Spoiled food can cause negative effects on health and lead to foodborne illnesses (3, 4, 5, 6).
In this article, we answered the question “How long can pasta sauce last in the fridge?” and discussed the factors affecting the shelf life of pasta sauce in the fridge, how to know if pasta sauce has gone bad and if you can consume pasta sauce after the expiration date.
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Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Aug 15]. Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/data/EN/FoodKeeper-Data.xls
Montanari A, Barone C, Barone M, Santangelo A, Montanari A, Barone C, Barone M, Santangelo A. Canned tomato sauces and beans: Industrial processes. Thermal Treatments of Canned Foods. 2018:43-53.
Coorey R, Ng DS, Jayamanne VS, Buys EM, Munyard S, Mousley CJ, Njage PM, Dykes GA. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2018 Jul;17(4):827-40.
Kilcast D, Subramaniam P, editors. The stability and shelf-life of food.
Rawat S. Food Spoilage: Microorganisms and their prevention. Asian journal of plant science and Research. 2015;5(4):47-56.
Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Sep 21]. Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/food-product-dating