How long does ketchup last after opening?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long does ketchup last after opening” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of an opened ketchup bottle in different mediums. Moreover, we are going to discuss the ways to spot bad ketchup.

Condiments play an important role in imparting unique flavors in our dishes and ketchup is one of the most used condiments. From burgers to fries, hot dogs to pizzas, ketchup is used as a topping in all. As it is used in a small quantity therefore it is just normal that a bottle of ketchup lingers for a while in our kitchen. So if you are wondering “how long does ketchup last after opening” then you are at the right place as we are going to tell you all about the shelf life of the ketchup. 

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

How long does ketchup last after opening?

After opening, ketchup must be refrigerated and consumed within eight weeks to preserve its quality and ensure safety. Prior to opening, ketchup is a shelf-stable product, allowing it to be safely stored for one or more years at room temperature. 

The preservation of tomato ketchup is guaranteed by several factors, including its low pH level (below 4.0), pasteurization, and the incorporation of preservatives. Through several essential heat treatments, the product attains enhanced safety and stability. (1)

How to store opened ketchup?

Opened ketchup needs to be refrigerated at 4 degrees Celsius or below in order to maintain its quality. Bacterial growth occurs more rapidly between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius, so refrigeration at a lower temperature helps preserve the ketchup for an extended period.

On the other hand, unopened ketchup can be safely stored at room temperature since ketchup is a shelf-stable product. Ketchup can also be frozen without any adverse effects. There have been no studies indicating any negative consequences from freezing ketchup. (1, 2)

What factors affect ketchup shelf life?

The shelf stability of ketchup can be attributed to various factors. Its low pH level, along with the addition of sodium benzoate and the application of heat during the manufacturing process, play significant roles in preventing spoilage. 

Acidic foods like ketchup, with a pH below 4.0, typically limit spoilage to non-spore-forming bacteria (such as lactic acid bacteria), yeasts (such as Saccharomyces spp. and Candida spp.), or mold (such as Byssochlamus fulva). 

While other groups of microbes may still cause spoilage when the pH ranges from 4.0 to 3.8, their growth is significantly slowed down. Despite being generally considered a shelf-stable product, tomato ketchup is not entirely immune to spoilage. (3)

Is ketchup safe to use after the best by date?

The “expiry date” or “best before” date indicated by the manufacturer serves as a guideline for the period when the product is expected to be at its highest quality. 

While the food may not necessarily spoil or become unsafe beyond this date, there is a possibility that its original texture or flavor could be compromised. (5)

Is it safe to eat expired ketchup?

If properly stored, consuming expired ketchup does not necessarily result in sickness. Tomato ketchup, along with other tomato preserves like tomato paste, puree, and juice, is typically regarded as an ambient stable product.

The production process involves pasteurizing tomato paste, whether cold or hot break concentrated. This paste is then combined with various ingredients like starch, vinegar, spices, sugar, salt, and others. 

The mixture undergoes boiling and is either aseptically hot-filled or filled and pasteurized in a hermetically sealed bottle. Moreover, preservatives may be included to ensure stability. (1)

What are the signs of ketchup spoilage?

Several indicators can help determine if ketchup has gone bad. To make a final assessment, carefully inspect the appearance, color, smell, taste, and condition of the packet.

Be on the lookout for any off-colors or the presence of molds, as they are clear signs of spoilage. Overheated or expired ketchup may take on a typical brown color and develop off-flavors due to the oxidation of carotenoids and lipids.

During a sniff test, pay attention to any unusual odors, especially a distinct sour smell or anything different from the typical ketchup scent, as it suggests spoilage. If you notice off-flavors or a slightly bitter after-taste while tasting the ketchup, it is likely past its prime.

If any of these indicators are present, it’s best to discard the ketchup. Microbial contamination may have occurred, making the ketchup unsuitable for consumption. (3, 4)

Does spoiled ketchup have any adverse effects?

Yes, consuming spoiled ketchup can result in food poisoning, leading to various symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, and diarrhea. 

In certain cases, certain fungal toxins like aflatoxin can pose a significant risk to the liver, manifesting early signs like fever, malaise, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and hepatitis. However, severe instances of poisoning are relatively uncommon.

Moreover, a decrease in appetite and feelings of nausea are typical indications of food poisoning, typically lasting only a day or two. If these symptoms persist or worsen, seeking medical attention is recommended to ensure appropriate care and treatment. (6, 7)

Other FAQs about Ketchup which you may be interested in.

Does ketchup have sugar?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long does ketchup last after opening” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of an opened ketchup bottle in different mediums. Moreover, we discussed the ways to spot bad ketchup.


  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 P, Mahato DK, Kamle M, Mohanta TK, Kang SG. Aflatoxins: A Global Concern for Food Safety, Human Health and Their Management. Front Microbiol. 2017
  3. Bjorkroth, K. J., & Korkeala, H. J. Lactobacillus fructivorans Spoilage of Tomato Ketchup. Journal of Food Protection, 60(5), 505–509. 1997.
  4. 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.
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Website. Washington, DC. Food Product Dating. 2019.
  6. 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.
  7. 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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