What happens If you eat expired oats? (+7 types)

In this article, we will answer the question “What happens If you eat expired oats?”, and what is the shelf-life of oatmeal?

Do oats expire?

Eventually yes, but oats do not expire until at least a year. When stored properly in an airtight container or remain unopened, they can last for up to 2 years. Oats are often commercially processed and come with an expiry date.

What happens If you eat expired oats?

Eating expired oats can upset your stomach. Regular use of expired oats can lead to intestinal inflammation. 

Besides, expired oats have a poor nutritional profile because most of the fats and nutrients are oxidized and destroyed as a result of rancidity. 

This rancidity occurs due to the oxidation of fats. Oats have a high-fat content, hence, more prone to spoilage due to rancidity.

Similarly, consuming rancid eats won’t make you sick If the rancidity is only due to lipid oxidation. 

What can you do with old oatmeal?

Oatmeal has a rich nutritional profile containing high fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds like beta-glucan. 

It helps reduce bad cholesterol and boost immunity. Expired oats can be utilized in some useful ways. Some of them are discussed below.

  • The mild exfoliating action of expired oats can be used to get glowing skin. Besides they can also be used in bath bombs and soaps. Oatmeal scrubs are an excellent way to treat acne and get rid of dry and irritated skin.
  • Use the expired oats in a face mask by combining it with some water and flour till thick paste forms. Gently scrub and remove after 15 minutes.
  • Expired oats can also be gently scrubbed onto pets to get rid of unpleasant odors.
  • Old or expired oats can be converted into dough clay by soaking it overnight. You can add food-grade colors into this clay-like oat dough so that kids can play with this.

Date labels on oatmeal

The Use by, sell by, best by, and best before, all refer to the quality of the oatmeal. However, these are rough estimates made by the manufacturers considering the processing methods and ingredients of their products. 

These dates are a bit stricter because the manufacturer wants to be on the safe side regarding their product quality. In short, these dates are not a darwin line on the rock. These date labels refer to the quality and not the safety of the product. 

Does oatmeal expire?

Now one might wonder If the date labels do not give information about food safety then what does. Unusually smell and the presence of bugs is a clear indication of the compromised safety of oatmeal

Discoloration: Ideally, the oats should have a semi-cream or beige color. Any slight aberration from this color indicates the growth of mold or the presence of mold.

Mold: Oats are meant to be kept dry. If moisture goes in, the safety of the oats is ruined. Moist oats or the presence of fungi in the form of colored patches confirms the moisture found its way to the oats likely due to improper seal.

Off-putting smell: Rancid oats give off a very unpleasant smell that is far from the sweet, nutty, and fresh smell of the oats.

Critters: If you notice even a single vermin in your oats, chances are the problem has already gone severe. Similarly, the presence of rodents in your storage area is an indication of compromised safety. If you do not get rid of these safety threats in time, they will multiply to unmanageable levels.

Other FAQs about Oatmeal which you may be interested in.

Do you have to use chia seeds in overnight oats?

Is oatmeal safe to eat without cooking?

Can you cook steel cut oats in a rice cooker

Shelf-life of oatmeal 

The shelf-life of oats depends on how they were manufactured or processed plus what type of ingredients were added to it during cooking. An opened container of store-bought uncooked rolled, quick, or steel-cut oats will stay fresh for about 12 months. 

If the container is unopened and stored under the right storage practices, It will last for 2 years. Commercially processed oats are steamed during processing which contributes to their extended shelf-life. Oats that do not undergo such a steaming process will only last 3-4 months. 

Oatmeal with added ingredients like dry milk and dry fruits has a shelf-life of 4 months-1 years depending on the type of ingredients. Read the label for a more accurate estimation of the shelf-life of oats. 

Cooked oatmeal will last 3-4 months in the fridge If stored in an air-tight container. In the freezer, they will stay fresh for up to 3 months.

Unopened or Opened (and re-sealed)In the pantryIn the freezer
Past Printed Date 
Instant Oatmeal1-2 Years—-
Flavored/Cream Instant Oatmeal6-9 Months—-
1-minute Oatmeal 2-3 Days—-
5-minute Oatmeal2-3 Days—-
Steel Cut Oatmeal (Irish Oatmeal)1-2 Years—-
Oatmeal Cookies2-3 Days4-5 Months
Prepared Refrigerated Freezer 
Prepared (Cooked) Oatmeal5-7 days Not recommended 


In this article, we answered the question “What happens If you eat expired oats?”, and what is the shelf-life of oatmeal?