What happens If you eat expired queso fresco?
In this article, we will answer the question “What happens If you eat expired queso fresco?” and discuss the risks of eating expired queso fresco and how to know if queso fresco is spoiled.
What happens If you eat expired queso fresco?
If you eat queso fresco after the expiration date, it is possible that you experience an episode of foodborne illness, as queso fresco can be easily spoiled, due to the high pH value and high moisture (1).
If you eat queso fresco after the expiration date, it is also possible that nothing unusual happens. Eating foods after the expiration date can be safe, if the food is not spoiled. Usually, spoiled food can be identified through quality alterations regarding the odor, color, texture and flavor (2).
Queso fresco is a fresh cheese of Mexican origin produced with pasteurized cheese, which favors its safety. Some commercial products undergo additional processing steps, in order to have an increased shelf life.
What are the risks of eating expired queso fresco?
The most critical risk of eating expired queso fresco is foodborne disease caused by the consumption of contaminated queso fresco. This fresh cheese is susceptible to contamination by many microorganisms, including pathogenic bacteria, yeasts and molds related to diseases (1,3).
Listeria monocytogenes is one in the queso fresco most commonly found pathogenic bacteria. Several food outbreaks related to this bacteria occurred in the past in many parts of the world (4). Other pathogens related to queso fresco are Pseudomonas, Streptococcus and fecal coliforms.
The symptoms of infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes include nausea and diarrhea, fever and muscle pain. The infection can spread to the nervous system, causing headache and confusion. When pregnants are affected, it could lead to complications and miscarriage (5).
An altered nutritional composition of the cheese is also a risk, which is caused by many chemical changes of the cheese during long storage, such as degradation of the proteins and lipids (3).
What is the shelf-life of queso fresco?
Store-bought unopened queso fresco will stay good for about 2 months in the fridge (1,3). After opening, it can last easily for 1 week If it was kept in the fridge after loosely wrapping it with a cheesecloth or plastic sheet (6).
Fresh cheeses, such as cottage and queso fresco have a shorter shelf life than hard cheeses, due to the high moisture content, which favors microbial development (1,3).
Other factors that may contribute to the short shelf life of queso fresco are the lower level of salt, which is a natural preservative, and the high pH level. In Mexico, it is possible to find commercial cheeses that are made with unpasteurized milk.
The production of cheese with unpasteurized milk significantly increases the risks of spoilage and therefore is not permitted in the United States. Queso fresco commercialized in the United States is made with pasteurized cheese (1).
How to know if queso fresco is spoiled?
To know if queso fresco is spoiled, you should be aware of the altered signs in queso fresco, which may indicate spoilage (1,3,4):
An altered odor and flavor: off-odors and off-odors such as rancid, oxidized, and alcoholic may result from the lipid hydrolysis or protein degradation caused by chemical reactions or microbial action
Alterations in the texture: the long storage may lead to slight to great alterations in the texture, such increased hardness and crumbliness, loss of melting properties, wheying off (exudation of whey onto the surface), increased drying on the edges
Discoloration: increasing of yellowness and loss of whiteness can indicate lipid degradation, while discoloration, such as pink color indicates microbial spoilage by Themus bacteria. Browning can occur when the cheese is cooked due to the increased free whey proteins resulting from degradation
How to improve the safe consumption of expired queso fresco?
To improve the safety of consuming expired queso fresco, you can cook the queso fresco. After checking and ensuring that the queso fresco is not spoiled, grill the cheese in a pan or add the cheese to dishes that will be cooked or baked.
Thermal treatments applied to milk and dairy products can significantly improve their safety consumption (1). Heat reduces the microbial contamination of food and therefore reduces the risks of foodborne illnesses.
Other FAQs about Cheese that you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the question “What happens If you eat expired queso fresco?” and discussed the risks of eating expired queso fresco and how to know if queso fresco is spoiled.
- Tomasula, P. M., et al. Effect of high-pressure processing on reduction of Listeria monocytogenes in packaged Queso Fresco. J dairy sci, 2014, 97, 1281-1295.
- Food product labeling. United States Department of Agriculture.
- Tunick, Michael H., et al. Chemistry of queso fresco. Hispanic foods: Chemistry and bioactive compounds. American Chemical Society, 2012. 11-23.
- Holle, Maxwell J., et al. Microbial analysis of commercially available US Queso Fresco. J dairy sci, 2018, 101, 7736-7745.
- Foodborne illness and disease. United States Department of Agriculture.
- Dash, Kshirod Kumar, et al. A comprehensive review on heat treatments and related impact on the quality and microbial safety of milk and milk-based products. Food Chem Adv, 2022, 1, 100041.