What happens if you eat expired hummus?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “what happens if you eat expired hummus?” and the proper storage of hummus.

What happens if you eat expired hummus?

If you eat expired hummus that is spoiled, you can get food poisoning. If the hummus does not have signs of spoilage, it should be safe to consume until the time spoilage is evident (2). For homemade hummus, it is best to consume it within 5 – 7 days.(1)

Hummus usually have a best-by date for the shelf-stable kind and a use-by date for the refrigerated one instead of an “expiration date”. 

The best-by date and the use-by date are only a date upon which the optimum quality of the product is guaranteed. If the hummus is stored properly, it may last longer past its expiration date. 

Food spoilage will cause changes in the sensory characteristics of the food, such as texture, smell, taste or appearance. Spoiled foods may not have pathogens or toxins present and still be safe to eat, but the changes on those characteristics will make them unacceptable for consumption (3). 

The refrigerated variety stays good for 5-7 days past this date, if unopened. 

Once opened, all kinds of storebought hummus will only last for about 7 days or until it starts to show signs of spoilage.

If you consume out-of-date hummus but it is not spoiled yet, it probably won’t make you sick. If it has any sign of spoilage, it probably will cause you to get food poisoning. 

What are the factors that influence hummus spoilage?

There are several factors that influence hummus spoilage. The first is the quality of the ingredients used. The quality of the ingredients will directly affect the shelf life of the hummus, the better the quality the longer the shelf life. 

Throughout the process of preparing hummus, there is a risk of bacterial cross-contamination arising from ingredients, utensils, and the surrounding environment, making it vulnerable to such contamination. 

The homemade hummus is not added with preservatives and does not have a heat treatment in its preparation.

These conditions limit the shelf life of hummus and it has to be stored at refrigerated temperatures. (4)

Another factor that can greatly affect the shelf life of hummus is the conditions of storage. If you keep the hummus in an airtight container, it can prolong its shelf life.

Additionally, preservatives can also affect the shelf life of hummus and prolong it. 

What are the risks of consuming expired hummus?

Typically, determining the safety of hummus is a straightforward process since expired hummus tends to exhibit noticeable changes in both smell and taste.

Nevertheless, consuming expired hummus can result in food poisoning, which may manifest as symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain (10). 

What are the signs of spoiled hummus?

Some signs of spoiled hummus are: 

  • Appearance: The presence of discolored patches or spots is a sign of mold or bacterial growth, due to its high water content. (5).
  • Smell: A bad-smelling hummus won’t go unnoticed. If it smells sour, moldy, or just strange, it is done for. or with a strong ammonia-like smell, you should discard it immediately.
  • When there is a high population of microorganisms, they begin to produce peptides instead of sugars, which leads to the accumulation of free amino acids, ammonia, and amines (6).
  • Taste: A sour or rancid taste will indicate that the hummus has gone bad. Legumes, such as chickpeas, contain an enzyme called lipoxygenase. This enzyme can produce off-flavors when the hummus is exposed to oxygen, and give it a rancid taste due to the breakdown of the fatty acids (7).
  • Texture: If you notice slime formation on top of the hummus, it is a clear sign of spoilage.

The microbial load of hummus that produces its spoilage is formed mainly by lactic acid bacteria (8). Lactic acid bacteria ferment the sugars of the food producing lactic acid, slime and CO2. (7)

What foodborne illnesses are associated with expired hummus?

Although rare, hummus can lead to a Listeriosis infection due to its contamination with Listeria monocytogenes (12). Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea, loss of balance, stiff neck, and convulsions. (11)

Another pathogen that can be the cause of a foodborne illness associated with the consumption of hummus is Salmonella enterica. (12) This bacteria can lead to Salmonellosis and its symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting (11).

How to properly store hummus?

To properly store hummus, first you have to know the type of hummus that you have; refrigerated, unrefrigerated or homemade. 

Unrefrigerated hummus 

Unrefrigerated hummus is heat treated with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) treatment that reduces the microbiological load to commercial sterility and enables storage at ambient temperature. (9)

This type of hummus must be kept somewhere dry, cool, and dark, away from sources of heat while it is unopened, like in the pantry or your kitchen cabinet.

Once opened, it must be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container. 

Refrigerated hummus 

Refrigerated hummus typically undergoes heat treatment through pasteurization, which reduces the presence of microorganisms. 

However, it is essential to note that some bacteria may still survive this process, necessitating refrigerated storage to control their growth rate. (9)

This type of hummus should always be refrigerated, even if it is unopened.

Refrain from dipping food, dirty spoons, or your fingers into the hummus, this will accelerate spoilage. 

Homemade hummus

Homemade hummus should always be refrigerated to prevent spoilage. Due to its lack of preservatives, it will spoil faster than store-bought hummus.

Other FAQs about Hummus that you may be interested in.

How long can you eat hummus after the expiration date?

How fast does hummus go bad?

How long is hummus good for?

Can hummus go bad?


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “what happens if you eat expired hummus?” and the storage of hummus.


  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Keeper.
  2. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Product Dating
  3. Rawat, Seema. Food Spoilage: Microorganisms and their prevention. Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research. 
  4. Yamani, M.I., Mehyar, G.F. Effect of chemical preservatives on the shelf life of hummus during different storage temperatures. Jordan Journal of Agricultural Sciences, Volume 7, No.1.
  5. Shaheen, M., Nsaif, M., and Borjac, J. Effect of TDS on bacterial growth in Lebanese hummus dip. BAU Journal, Health and Wellbeing. 
  6. Al-Holy, M., Al-Qadiri, H., Lin, M., Rasco, B. Inhibition of Listeria innocua in Hummus by a Combination of Nisin and Citric Acid. Journal of Food Protection.
  7. Huis in’t Veld, J.H.J. Microbial and biochemical spoilage of foods: an overview. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 
  8. Yamani, M.I., Al-Dababseh, B.A. Microbial Quality of Hoummos (Ckickpea Dip) Commercially Produced in Jordan. Journal of Food Protection.
  9. TetraPak. Increase Shelf Life of Hummus
  10. United States Department of Agriculture. Are you sure it wasn’t food poisoning?
  11. Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know about foodborne illnesses.
  12. Olaimat, A.N., AL-Holy, M.A., Abu Ghoush, M.H., Al-Nabulsi, A.A., Osaili, T.M., Ayyash, M., Al-Degs, Y.S., Holley, R.A. Use of citric acid and garlic extract to inhibit Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes in hummus. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 

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