What happens if you eat expired ice cream?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “what happens if you eat expired ice cream?”. We will also discuss the proper storage and shelf life of ice cream and what are the health consequences of eating spoiled ice cream.

What happens if you eat expired ice cream?

Contamination and food-borne illness are two potential dangers connected with outdated ice cream, both of which are preventable (1-2). 

Individuals who are already ill, who have weaker immune systems, babies, pregnant women, and the elderly are more vulnerable to food-borne infections than the general public (3)

Foodborne illnesses, which are often underreported, are characterized by stomach flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, dehydration, and diarrhea, which may persist for a few hours or several days (4). 

Foodborne diseases may be fatal if left untreated. Depending on which bacteria are involved, the infection may be mild or severe, and vice versa (5).

What are the health risks of eating expired ice cream?

Consuming expired ice cream can pose several health risks as it may harbor harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause foodborne illnesses with symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever (2). 

Bacterial growth can occur as ice cream ages, particularly if it has been improperly stored. Additionally, expired ice cream may undergo texture changes, such as developing ice crystals or becoming grainy, and experience flavor degradation. 

The nutritional value of expired ice cream may also decline, offering fewer benefits compared to fresh ice cream. 

Individuals with food allergies or intolerances may be at risk of experiencing allergic reactions when consuming expired ice cream (6). 

You should always check the expiration date of your ice cream, store it properly, and discard any expired products to avoid health consequences. Remember that your safety comes first!

What should you do if you accidentally eat expired ice cream?

If you accidentally consume expired ice cream, it is important to monitor your symptoms, stay hydrated, and consider contacting a healthcare professional if you experience prolonged and severe symptoms.

What are the signs of spoilage in expired ice cream?

When evaluating whether your ice cream has spoiled, there are several signs to look out, including:

  • Unusual odor: Spoiled ice cream may have a noticeable off-putting smell, distinct from its usual sweet or creamy aroma.
  • Changes in texture: Expired ice cream can develop ice crystals, become excessively icy or grainy, or lose its smooth and creamy texture.
  • Altered color: Discoloration or unusual changes in the color of ice cream, such as darkening or the presence of mold spots, can indicate spoilage.
  • Separation: Spoiled ice cream may separate into liquid and solid components, with visible pools of liquid forming on the surface.
  • Abnormal taste: Expired ice cream may have a sour or rancid taste, significantly different from its usual flavor profile.
  • Formation of ice or frost: Excessive ice or frost on the surface of the ice cream container can be an indicator of temperature fluctuations, improper storage, or prolonged expiration.

If any of these signs are present in expired ice cream, it is best to discard it to avoid potential health risks. 

Remember that trusting your senses and being cautious when consuming dairy products can help ensure your safety and enjoyment of fresh and quality ice cream.

What is the best way to store ice cream?

The following tips will help you to properly handle your ice cream to prolong its shelf life and keep it safe for consumption:

  • It is suggested that you store your ice cream at the back part of the freezer, where the temperature is the coolest, rather than the front.
  • Air contact with your ice cream should be minimized to prevent spoiling the product.
  • Do not leave it out or allow it to thaw after it has been served.
  • Keep your ice cream or ice cream cakes in the back of the freezer to ensure that they stay as cold as possible.
  • However, even though the temperature remains constant, certain freezer compartments suffer larger temperature fluctuations as a consequence of the door being opened and closed repeatedly over time.

To avoid this, ice cream must be never left outside the door, since it will degrade more rapidly.

  • Keep the ice cream as free of air as possible, which is another great technique for keeping the ice cream.

What is the shelf life of ice cream?

Ice cream that has not been opened may be stored in a freezer for up to two months if it is maintained at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to keep the ice cream for more than a month, cover it tightly in plastic wrap or freezer paper to keep the quality of the ice cream intact.

As soon as a container is opened, it may be stored in a safe location for up to two to three weeks before it is considered “old”. Wrap plastic wrap over the ice cream in the container to keep the texture from becoming grainy and to prevent the development of ice crystals from forming.


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “what happens if you eat expired ice cream?”. We also discussed the proper storage and shelf life of ice cream and what are the health consequences of eating spoiled ice cream.


1. Abrahão WM, Abrahão PRDS, Monteiro CLB, Pontarolo R. Occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in cheese and ice cream produced in the State of Paraná, Brazil. Rev Bras Ciências Farm [Internet]. 2008 Apr [cited 2023 May 22];44(2):289–96. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/rbcf/a/shtJr5TCVCjZsQDhBTFhMgr/abstract/?lang=en 

2. Bintsis T. Foodborne pathogens. AIMS Microbiol [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 May 16];3(3):529. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6604998/ 

3. Lennard LB. Food microbiology and food poisoning. In: Food & Nutrition [Internet]. Taylor & francis Gr…. Routledge; 2020 [cited 2023 May 30]. p. 132–54. Available from: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003115663-11/food-microbiology-food-poisoning-louise-lennard 

4. Milaciu M V, Ciumărnean L, Orășan OH, Para I, Alexescu T, Negrean V. Semiology of food poisoning. Int J Bioflux Soc [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 May 10];8(2):108–13. Available from: http://hvm.bioflux.com.ro/docs/2015.108-113.pdf 

5. Lawrence DT, Dobmeier SG, Bechtel LK, Holstege CP. Food Poisoning. Emerg Med Clin North Am [Internet]. 2007 May 1 [cited 2023 Apr 24];25(2):357–73. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17482025/   

6. Patel P, Komorowski AS, Mack DP. An allergist’s approach to food poisoning. Ann Allergy, Asthma Immunol [Internet]. 2023 Apr 1 [cited 2023 May 5];130(4):444–51. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36334721/