Finding that you have a long-forgotten chocolate bar stored somewhere in your house can be like finding a reward – who is not happy to find a candy they thought they didn’t have? However, in such cases, most of the time the expiration date of the chocolate has passed a long time ago.
Chocolate past the expiration or best before date is completely safe for consumption, as long as the quality of the chocolate has not been changed – meaning that there are no obvious changes in smell or taste. However, if the chocolate has gone bad, it will most likely cause temporary light stomach issues.
There are several signs that can signalize that you are about to eat a bar of chocolate that has gone bad, and in order to learn how to recognize those signs and prevent any health-related issues, we have explained them all in the following text.
Is It Safe to Eat Chocolate After the Expiration Date?
If eating chocolate after the expiration date concerns you, then you must know that it is completely safe to eat it. This is because chocolate cannot go bad, due to the fact that there is no water as an active ingredient.
Products that contain water are good ground for bacteria to flourish. When bacteria have space to develop, they can activate and cause harm, meaning that the product will inevitably go bad. When there is no water, there is also no space for bacteria to develop. Therefore, chocolate will hardly develop any mold.
By default, chocolate cannot expire because there is no water in it. However, every single chocolate will come with a “best before” date. Technically speaking, this is different from the expiration date.
Food with an expiration date is no longer usable after that date has passed. This simply means that the manufacturer guarantees the quality of the product only by that printed date. After the expiration date has passed, the food is no longer safe to be consumed.
However, a best before date means that the manufacturer is recommending the food to be used by that specific date. Once that date has passed, the food is still safe to use, but some of its properties may be lost (for example, the taste might change slightly).
Chocolate is one of those types of foods that comes with a best before date, which leads us to the conclusion that eating chocolate after the expiration date is completely safe.
What Are the Side Effects of Eating Expired Chocolate?
Eating chocolate past the expiration date might be marked as safe, but it is not something that should become your everyday practice. In most cases, the chocolate will only lose its taste, meaning that it will not have the right consistency and “feel” in the mouth. Sometimes, chocolate becomes dry and crumbly, but it is still safe to eat.
Even though the chocolate can last for a long time after the expiration date has passed, it is only good to eat it if it has not lost any of its traits. This means that you will need to track the chocolate consistency, color, or smell change, and to evaluate whether you can eat it or not.
When there is no change in the chocolate traits, you can safely consume it. However, sometimes the changes might not be as obvious as we think, and because of that, the advice is to be very careful when choosing what chocolate to eat, and what to avoid.
Can Old Chocolate Cause Food Poisoning?
Regardless of that, the chocolate will never give you food poisoning, so you are safe in that matter. On the other hand, chocolate that has gone bad can give you some symptoms, in terms of having short-term stomach issues, but they are easily solved on their own after a couple of hours, which means you have nothing to worry about.
Can Expired Chocolate Give You Diarrhea?
Of course, there are extreme cases where you can get severe diarrhea, depending on the state of the chocolate, how it was stored, and for how long. Even in this case, the issues you are having are most likely caused by other ingredients that can be found in the chocolate, not the cocoa itself.
How Long Can You Eat Chocolate After the Expiration Date?
The answer to this question solely depends on the type of chocolate we are talking about. Different types of chocolate, and different manufacturers will have different guidelines regarding how the chocolate should be stored, for how long, and by when you can and should consume it.
However, there are some general guidelines you can follow and take into consideration when deciding whether you should eat chocolate past the expiration date or not. All of them are listed in the table down below.
|Type of chocolate||Quality should still be on the same level no more than*||Quality might be compromised no more than*|
|Milk chocolate||2-4 months||5-8 months|
|White chocolate||2-4 months||5-8 months|
|Dark chocolate||1 year||2-3 years|
|Chocolate bar with nuts and/or fruits||2-4 months||5-8 months|
|Chocolate bar with nougat/caramel/waffel||2-4 months||5-8 months|
|Hot chocolate||1 year||1-2 years|
Of course, all of this data needs to be taken with a reserve, which means that you will still need to evaluate the state of the chocolate product you are about to consume, to see whether it is still good or not.
If the chocolate product you have falls out of the time frames we have mentioned in this table, it is definitely not safe to consume, so make sure to throw it away, to avoid having any stomach issues.
How Do You Know When Chocolate Is Bad?
Chocolate blooming is a term that is often wrongly associated with chocolate products going bad. The bloom you are seeing on the chocolate does not mean that the product is not safe to eat. It just means that the fat or the sugar from the chocolate has separated from the rest of the ingredients, and that is why it is showing on the top of your chocolate bar.
However, chocolate that looks like this will most probably have a taste that is not the same as the original chocolate taste. This change affects the texture of the chocolate, which also means that it will taste different in your mouth. If you put such chocolate and make cookies or other types of sweets, you will most likely not notice that there is something different.
In order to notice that the chocolate has gone bad, you will need to check for some serious changes on the surface of the chocolate, such as the appearance of cracks, or mold. These changes are straight-to-point indicators that the chocolate is not good for any further consumption.
Another issue that happens with your chocolate is the change of smell. Sometimes this change of smell can affect the taste as well. If you don’t store an open chocolate bar properly, it will very likely gather all the smells of the surrounding food (from the fridge, for example).
This happens because the chocolate has the ability to collect and absorb the smells around it, so if you don’t store an opened chocolate properly, it will definitely change the smell. Such chocolate is not bad for consumption, however, it is not pleasant to eat chocolate that smells like pizza, right?
What Happens if You Eat Expired White Chocolate?
White chocolate has a higher percentage of milk compared to other types of chocolates (like regular milk chocolate, or dark chocolate). This also means that the white chocolate will not last for the same period of time as the other chocolates – it will simply go bad quicker.
This happens because of the milk in the chocolate. It has a shorter lifespan compared to other ingredients. And if the percentage of the milk is high, chances are the product will be gone bad very quickly.
Generally, it’s harder to notice that the white chocolate has gone bad, mostly because of no visible signs on the surface of the chocolate, but the most obvious sign is the change in taste.
Eating such a piece of chocolate will not do any harm to you, as long as you just try it and do not continue to consume it. Eating expired white chocolate can give you stomach issues, just like any other type of expired food would give you.
However, this only applies if the white chocolate has gone bad after the expiration date. If it is still in a good condition, and the quality did not change, then it is safe to continue with the consumption of such white chocolate.
What Happens if You Eat Expired Chocolate Syrup?
Chocolate syrups are used for different purposes, but most likely people are not going to consume them in a short period of time. Because of that, the shelf life of a chocolate syrup can go up to three years.
Of course, the shelf life of the specific chocolate syrup product you have in the house will depend on various factors, such as the manufacturer, the production method, the ingredients that are used, etc. Because of that, it is recommended to always check what the package says for that specific individual product that you own.
A chocolate syrup that has gone bad will most probably have visible mold that will signalize you that there is something wrong with the product itself. Such a product should never be consumed, and you should get rid of it straight away. If you do consume a chocolate syrup that has gone bad, you will most likely have some stomach issues, like short-term diarrhea.
If the chocolate syrup is not showing any signs of deteriorated quality past the expiration date, then it is safe to use, just like the regular chocolate would be.