Expired Soup. Like, 4+ years past use-by date

I tend to over-buy when products are on BOGO sales.

I try to restock my pantry by date, and generally do so (first to expire at front). But I have a large family with varied tastes in prepared soups, and they don’t get eaten sometimes as I’d planned.

It took inventory and have some Progresso branded soups with a use by date over 4 years ago.

No bulging in those cans, so I went ahead and heated and ate them myself tonight (most other family members doing something else, so somewhat of a solitary experiment).

The 4-year expired soups seemed to be just as good as those I’ve eaten (from the same brand) as fresher.

I’m wondering does anyone else eat canned goods (like canned soups) so far past their use by dates?

And do you worry about it? Or do you just throw out such cans, if you happen upon them in the pantry?


I think expiration dates are bogus. My hubby, a physician, tends to agree. We use our noses and eyes to evaluate food items that are suspect (disclaimer: we both come from modest backgrounds, where throwing out food would be a travesty but we’ve yet to have any food poisoning due to “expired” foods).


Thanks for your reply. I grew up pretty poor and also have trouble tossing foods that might be good. I just hadn’t seen a lot of commentary on stuff labeled “Best By July 2018” (“long time ago”) and got to wondering about it. And if others thought about it or just tossed it. Could be soups, canned peas, green beans, whatever.

Not quite on topic, but wonder what your hubby thinks about meds and “use-by” dates also. I’ve read the US Army studies indicating that most meds are good (85-90% efficacy or more) for a decade past their use-by dates. Despite so, I tend to toss OTC meds after their use-by dates. I guess because they’re easy to replace. But I do hang on to Rx meds past that (in the few circumstances where we have leftovers due to Rx changes mid-dosing schedule).


I tend to keep canned chicken noodle soup on hand just in case of illness. We never need it though. So after a few dusty years I chunk it.

About 10 years ago I woke up with a swollen cheek at 5:00 a.m… I went online to see if it was safe to take 2 year old antibiotics we kept in the fridge. The same armed services article came up. 10 years. After 2 hours the swelling was down. I’ve been trusting out dated prescription drugs ever since.


I am one to totally flout those dates, especially with foods - truly they mean next to nothing to me, except for a sort of rough guideline. This even applies to refrigerated products, especially dairy. I too use my eyes and nose to determine if a product is still good. The milks, yogurts, cottage cheeses and sour creams last an unbelievably long time, especially if the containers remain unopened. Canned goods last much longer of course, and I’ve used some really old things that were just fine. There have been exceptions of course, and anything that is off color or smells/tastes bad is jettisoned. Canned evaporated milk and extremely acidic things (tomatillos, some chiles) don’t fare very well. I even found some Malto Meal cereal in the back of the pantry that was 8 years past the Best Buy date, and it was still delicious. The Malto Meal didn’t fare as well lol, and tasted like it’s cardboard box, yuck!
As far as meds go, I’m a little more reserved. I haven’t however had a problem with all the qualudes I hoarded from back in the 70’s! Just kidding! :joy_cat::joy::rofl:


Eat it.

If not, give it to me.


Not soup . But tonight i was going to have fried eggs with my meal . Sure they were expired . Cracked the first one into the pan . No thought about it . Looks good . And then cracked the second one . It came out of the shell smelling like a dead rat . Runny with the color of squid ink . My head reared back and immediately tosedd the pan of eggs into the garbage disposal. Washed down the drain with dawn soap . The other two in the carton . Nope .straight to the garbage . I have never seen this


Oh no - totally yuck! I only ever smelled a rotten egg on my cousin’s farm when we were kids - an unforgettable smell, truly atrocious. My sympathies to you!

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Drug expiration dates are set by the required stability testings for an NDA submission and just indicate the minimum time the manufacturer guarantee full potency on the drug. Most drugs will be significantly longer useable but it also depends on storage conditions, e.g. lower temperature and humidity are preferred (storage in the bathroom where you shower isn’t the best way). There is also a difference if it is solid formulation (pill) or a solution (or suspension). Solutions and suspension tend to lose potency faster. The last point to consider is the indication - if it is an allergy medication against seasonal allergy and you take a pill which doesn’t have full potency - no big deal, just a little bit more runny nose. If you take a heart medication and you don’t have full potency that could have a far more significant impact.


To clarify from my post above, the MAYPO didn’t fare well, but the Malto Meal was fine. Mistake!

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A few years ago, I came upon a half-used carton of heavy cream lost in the rear part of the lowest shelf. That’s the coldest spot but I still thought it would be a goner. Yet, no smell, and on further examination, I found that it had turned into totally usable cream cheese! I really SHOULD investigate the unopened quart carton of eggnog that I bought around Thanksgiving 2019 or 2020. It’s not on a low shelf but IS against the fridge’s rear wall.


Maybe it turned into eggnog creme brûlée - now that would be yum.

In general I agree that many expiration dates are just legally required minimum use dates but there is also the risk of “just” using nose and eyes to evaluate food items as many dangerous bacteria don’t change the appearance or smell of food but can have some negative effects (e.coli doesn’t change much in foods for example but has quite in an impact on health)

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Good practices with regards to food safety is essential! Although I use products beyond best by or suggested use by dates, am totally not cavalier when it comes to food safety - fresh seafood, meats - fresh or deli, and any non pasteurized dairy or cheeses fall into different categories for me. As well as leftover food, which is either frozen or tossed after 3 days. Bulging cans, immediately into trash. Deli meats used, frozen or binned by or shortly after dates, etc. Hopefully everyone can suss out best practices.
This topic has gone astray a bit from the OP’s original question - I did veer OT a bit.

I worry… a little.

For me, it depends on what’s in the can, and how far past the expiration date it is. If it’s a tomato product, I won’t keep it much past that date.

One thing we DO know is in the can is the poly lining. Having food in prolonged, continuous contact with plastic bothers me, not from a conventional “food poisoning” standpoint, but from a chemical exposure one. For example, I wouldn’t keep microwave popcorn very long at all because of the PFAS in the bags.

I’ve got cans that are further past the use by date than that. If the can is intact I would use it.

If anyone else ever subscribed to the old Lucky Peach, do you remember the the very apropos story by Harold McGee where they taste tested various canned items that were years to decade+ past the use by date?

We should start a thread of who has the oldest past use by date item. I’ve been thinking of that for a bit. Post a pic of the bottle or can.

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Sounds like a fun thread idea - if you start it I’ll go see what I gots.

This summer one of my daughters home from college took it upon herself to clean out and rearrange the pantry in a more logical fashion (engineering students, go figure). She found a Tuna Helper box with u/b some time in 2011, and a Swan’s Down cake flour from (IIRC) 2014. I tossed the TH not because I feared it but because, well, we haven’t really used that product since 2011… The SD flour I tossed because it had a noticeable tang/rancid smell.

I hesitate to see what’s in my MIL’s pantry. It’s not a walk in but just a closet with shelves, but it extends toward the left/hinge side of the door some 20 inches into the wall space. That’s where I’ll find the oldest stuff. She uses the Kraft pre-grated parm and once brought out a “new” (unopened) one for spaghetti - it was 4 years past s/b date. It had a distinct orange color to it and was like dry sawdust. We all agreed we didn’t necessarily need parm that night. :slight_smile:


Good point, well taken. We are always told to break an egg into a small bowl before adding it to something else or into a pan. I never do this, but your story may make me think twice next time.


I follow the “when in doubt, throw it out” adage. Food banks won’t take items past the sell by date for non- perishables and and far as perishables go, with soooo many problems in the ‘supply chain’ I don’t care to risk another food borne illness. Been there, don’ wanna go back.

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