What happens If you eat expired little bites? (+5 food safety Tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “What happens If you eat expired little bites?”, and discuss what are the possible risks of eating little bites after the expiration date.

What happens If you eat expired little bites?

Possible consequences of eating expired little bites are of experiencing a foodborne disease as a short term effect or of having higher risks of developing inflammatory diseases, as a long term effect (4,2). 

However, it is mostly possible that no negative effects occur, as expired little bites, when properly stored, are possibly safe to eat, unless there are notable signs of spoilage (3). 

What affects how fast little bites expire?

Many factors may affect the shelf life of little bites. These baked products  contain sugar, lipids and milk proteins in their composition and can spoil quickly, if not correctly stored. The main factors which determines how fast little bites can spoil are (6,8):

  • The packaging material: baked products exchange moisture with their surroundings and exposing them to the environment can lead to increase in moisture, leading to fungal development, or to loss of moisture, leading to dryness and staling. To protect little bites from the external effect of moisture, the package should be kept closed until consumption.
  • The temperature of storage: The shelf life of food can be extended when stored at low temperatures, because the rate of chemical and enzymatic reactions are slowed and because the microbial growth is generally reduced. For example, while the shelf life of fresh commercial muffins is 7 days at room temperature, the shelf life in the refrigerator is up to 10 days and in the freezer is up to 6 months. 
  • The ingredients: the shelf life of baked products vary according to the ingredients, as dairy ingredients, eggs, oils and flour suffer different degradation processes. In general, commercial bakery products contain preservatives, which can extend the shelf life when compared to homemade products.

How to know if little bites are spoiled?

To know if little bites are spoiled, you should be able to identify possible signs of spoilage. Off-odors, such as rancid and sour, old, rotten, musty or fruity indicate that little bites are possibly spoiled (1,4).

Fungal or yeast growth on the surface are noticed by brown to black discoloration, white or pinkish patches. 

Signs are manifested on the texture, which can become stale or can develop a slimy texture. Retrogradation of the starch in flour causes bakery products to increase in hardness (6).

Oxidized lipids have a bitter flavor. In addition, spoiled little bites may develop other off-flavors and alcoholic flavor.

What are the risks of eating spoiled little bites?

The risks of eating spoiled little bites are, in a short term, to have foodborne disease, as spoiled muffins or cookies are susceptible to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi. 

Possible symptoms of a foodborne disease are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps and others. Pathogenic bacteria such as Bacillus cereus, Bacillus licheniformis, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus are commonly found in bakery products (4).

Baked goods such as muffins and cookies can also contain fungal toxins. Toxins can be harmful to humans and have mutagenic, carcinogenic and immunosuppressive effects. The most common fungi that contaminate these products are Penicillium and Aspergillus. 

In addition, the ingredients in muffins and cookies and other little bites products are highly prone to oxidize (1). The oxidation of lipids leads to the formation of toxic compounds, which affect health in the long term, increasing the risks of inflammatory diseases (2).

How to store little bites?

Little bites should be stored in a cool place free from moisture and protected from heat sources (such as electronic equipment), as well as from light (5).

Freezing is an option to increase the shelf life, as it is an effective way to reduce microbial growth. However, staling can be accelerated by freeze/thaw cycles of bakery products, because retrogradation will occur (6).


In this article, we answered the question “What happens If you eat expired little bites?”, and discussed what are the possible risks of eating little bites after the expiration date.


  1. Grillo, Oscar, et al. Use of image analysis to evaluate the shelf life of bakery products. Food res int, 2014, 62, 514-522.
  2. Vieira, Samantha A., Guodong Zhang, and Eric A. Decker. Biological implications of lipid oxidation products. J Am Oil Chem Soc, 2017, 94, 339-351.
  3. United States Department of Agriculture. Shelf stable food safety.
  4. Saranraj, P., and M. Geetha. Microbial spoilage of bakery products and its control by preservatives. Int J Pharmaceut biol arch, 2012, 3, 38-48.
  5. Van Laanen, Peggy. Safe home food storage. Texas FARMER Collection. 2002.
  6. Singh, R. P., and B. A. Anderson. The major types of food spoilage: an overview. Understanding and measuring the shelf-life of food. 2004, 3-23. 
  7. Little bites. Party cake muffins. Ingredients. 
  8. United States Department of Agriculture. Foodkeeper.

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