How long can you eat spinach after the expiration date?

This article will answer the question “How long can you eat spinach after the expiration date?”, and how to tell if the spinach is bad?

How long can you eat spinach after the expiration date?

Yes, you can eat spinach after its expiration date, if it does not show any signs of spoilage, such as browning or yellowing, loss of texture and freshness and the generation of unpleasant odors (1,2).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, most of the foods can be safely consumed after the expired date printed on the packaging, if there are no signs of spoilage, with the exception of infant formula (3).

However, exactly how long you can eat spinach after the expiration date depends on many factors, especially the storage conditions where the spinach was stored till the expiration date.

What is the shelf life of spinach?

The shelf life of spinach varies depending on its processing. Fresh spinach lasts for 5 to 7 days in the fridge (4). 

Minimally processed spinach packed in plastic bags can last 5 days when unopened and about 2 days after being opened, depending on the packaging (when packed in modified atmosphere packaging it has a longer shelf life) (2,5).

Canned spinach lasts for up to 5 years unopened and kept at room temperature and lasts for 4 days in the fridge. 

Frozen spinach can be stored for 10 to 18 months at 0°F (-18°C) or lower (4). However, after 20 days of frozen storage there is a considerable loss of vitamin C (6).

What determines how long spinach lasts after the expiration date?

The factors that determine how long you can still eat spinach after its expiration date are the following (1,2,5,6,7):

  • The manufacturing process: Spinach is available in different forms, mainly fresh, minimally processed, frozen and canned. The different processes determine the shelf life of the product before and after its expiration date
  • The handling practices of the product: fresh, frozen and minimally processed spinach undergo many stages of handling. In each of these stages (harvesting, cleaning, sanitizing, packing) there is the possibility of contamination by pathogenic microorganisms due to poor handling and inadequate hygiene practices. The microbial contamination of the spinach before its expiration date may determine how long it can be consumed after the expiration date
  • The storage conditions: The temperature during transporting and storage can vary. Temperature fluctuations during refrigerated or frozen storage as well as exposure to light and heat during transporting may reduce the shelf life before and after expiration date  
  • The packaging material: The shelf life of minimally processed and frozen products vary according to the packaging material (type of plastic and its barrier properties for gas, light and moisture) and if it contains a modified atmosphere, which can significantly extend the shelf life of the spinach

How to tell If the spinach is bad?

To tell if the spinach is bad, you should be able to identify possible signs of spoilage. These are:

  • The presence of a slimy texture
  • The color change to yellow or brown
  • The generation of off-odors
  • Loss of texture
  • Leakage of liquids from the plant

How to store spinach to extend its shelf life?

To extend the shelf life of spinach, store according to the recommendations for each type of product.

In the case of minimally processed spinach, avoid touching the leaves if not needed to reduce the risks of contamination (5). Do not open the pre-packed spinach until you are ready to use it.

In the case of frozen spinach, do not thaw the amount that will not be consumed to avoid repeated freezing-thawing of the product.

In the case of the fresh produce, keep the product in the refrigerator protected by a plastic bag and do not wash it until use and not anticipatedly to avoid excess moisture in contact with the leaves. This accelerates spoilage and favors microbial development (7).

What are the risks of eating spoiled spinach?

The risk of eating spoiled spinach is of experiencing a foodborne disease. The possible symptoms of a foodborne disease are vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal cramps, nausea, fever and headache.

There are several pathogenic microorganisms related to the contamination of fresh produce and minimally processed vegetables, including Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, Shigella sp., Salmonella sp., in addition to parasites and viruses (2). 

Other FAQs about Spinach that you may be interested in.

Can rats eat spinach?

Can you eat spinach stems?

How much spinach should you eat?


This article answered the question “How long can you eat spinach after the expiration date?”, and how to tell if the spinach is bad?


  1. Saini, Ramesh Kumar, Eun Young Ko, and Young-Soo Keum. Minimally processed ready-to-eat baby-leaf vegetables: Production, processing, storage, microbial safety, and nutritional potential. Food rev int, 2017, 33, 644-663.
  2. Brackett, Robert E. Shelf stability and safety of fresh produce as influenced by sanitation and disinfection. J food protect, 1992, 55, 808-814. 
  3. Food Product labeling. United States Department of Agriculture.
  4. Foodkeeper. United States Department of Agriculture
  5. Piagentini, A. M., and D. R. Güemes. Shelf life of fresh-cut spinach as affected by chemical treatment and type of packaging film. Braz J Chem Eng, 2002, 19, 383-389.
  6. Giannakourou, M. C., and P. S. Taoukis. Kinetic modelling of vitamin C loss in frozen green vegetables under variable storage conditions. Food chem, 2003, 83, 33-41.
  7. Zander, Ann, and Marisa Bunning. Guide to washing fresh produce. Food and nutrition series. Food safety, 2010, 9.

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