When is food too old to eat?

I cooked a gumbo about eight days ago. Normally, if it doesn’t get eaten in about 3-5 days, it gets pitched. Gumbos are big so I usually portion some to go in the fridge for leftovers and some for the freezer.

So, for lunch yesterday I was digging around for some grub and noticed the one I made for the freezer was still in the fridge. I felt rotten and irresponsible for not putting it away, what a dumb assed thing.

It smelled okay. It was seasoned up pretty well too, I mean, what could grow in that?

So I put it in the micro and ate it.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a stomach like a dog. I have never had food poisoning in my life. Not once. 

Yogurt? I have eaten yogurt three weeks past expiration. 

Cheese? That stuff doesn’t go bad until the furry stuff grows on it. And I have cut that off and eaten what’s inside. 

I wouldn’t feed that to my kids though. I have a whole different set of rules for them.

So here’s what I want to know. When are leftovers too old to eat?






Rice? (I recently had a cousin insist  10 day old rice in the fridge was still good)

Yes, I know I can look it up on the internet, but I want to know what y’all think, because see, yogurt? That expiry date is too conservative.

Finally, what’s the craziest outdated food you’ve ever eaten?


45 thoughts on “When is food too old to eat?

  1. I ate, no lie, 12-day-old spaghetti recently and suffered no ill effects. If it had had meat in it, I’m sure it would have been a different story, but as far as I was concerned, it looked fine, smelled fine, and didn’t have anything growing in it. Good enough.

    Meats are different, though. Even if they’re fine I’ll sometimes imagine I smell some kind of rancidness after a few days.

    But I agree: The expiry dates on all dairy products are conservative. Milk–well, skim, anyway–is usually good for another week. Eggs are good for up to a month! And cheese? Cheese is fine as long as any part of it is fuzz-free.

  2. Wow, 12 day spaghetti, that’s great. I guess the tomato sauce is so acetic it retards the growth of bacteria.

    Eggs, yeah, I’ve always thought they were okay for at least a month past the exp. date. I have a friend who won’t eat store bought eggs. She buys them straight from the farm and says eggs are only good for two days. That always confused the hell out of me.

    • Farm eggs arent sanitized and pasteurized like store eggs so they ARENT going to last very long at all. Store bought eggs are treated to stay good a long time. We (society) used to leave eggs out at room temp, now the fridge helps them stay good longer as well.

    • Interesting, some say farm fresh unwashed eggs can last four weeks or more without refrigeration because of the natural sealant covering the egg . . .

    • Actually a friend mine raised chickens for eggs and he told me that actual fresh eggs last months due to them having a membrane that store eggs get washed off.

      So i think your comment is backwards.

  3. I would be afraid to eat the gumbo because of the meat, but that is me, I am extra-careful about those things. But, I bet if it is cooked real well afterwards, any bacteria would be killed off. Just get it real hot.

    I usually call my sister if something is in question, she is a food scientist. And half the time, I don’t listen to her anyway, lol.

    The worst thing I ate? It was in a deli/restuarant and I ate a whole half of a chopped-liver sandwich before asking my mom – does this smell right to you? It didn’t.

  4. Well, three days is my limit. Billy eats up to five days on some stuff. Any thing after that is considered to be antique food here. We just cleaned out the pantry. It was sickening how much was thrown out. I am a stickler about riding the house of expired food. Some was hurricane food.

    My dad and a friend once canned home made chili. He later told me they had not canned it right. We ate it, and so did friends. It lasted six months or more. No one ever got sick. Tomatoes might have helped.

  5. I have a stomach like yours. I could probably digest gravel as long as it didn’t smell funny. I usually follow my nose on this one.
    But my nose did fail me once.
    I am allergic to fish and I ate a salad at a “Fusion” restaurant that put fish oil in the dressing. I did not notice.
    My next meal was in the hospital.

  6. You are asking someone who went ahead and poured soy milk that is 6 days past it’s expiration date on her cereal….and noticed about 3 bites in that, yeah, it’s not at its tip top flavor 😉

    Generally I am very very careful. I have a one week generic rule on leftovers staying in my fridge. And I hate re-heated meat. My taste buds don’t like! Even though I know it is fine, they wont work for me, but the boys are OK. So, one week for all. Simpler that way.

  7. 3-5 days is the rule here. If it hasn’t been eaten by then, chances are it won’t… so I toss it. Sometimes I bring it to my Dad to feed the dog when I think about it.

    My Mom had months and months of groceries packed in her cabinets. I cleared some if it out and took the things my Dad didn’t care for home. No joke – I found mixes, kits, and such that had expired years ago. Like 10 years ago. I must have thrown out 3 bags of food. Shame to waste it, but I wasn’t taking any chances. My Dad would have probably eaten it anyway.

    One of the things I found was a taco kit. Didn’t look at the date on it… Just thought oh boy tacos! Brought it home and cooked it for supper. Ewwwww the taco shells were rancid. Nastiest things I have ever tasted. It had expired 2-3 years ago.

    But yeah… dairy like yogurt and eggs are usually good way past their date.

  8. Tysdaddy, Did you eat those science fair projects?

    Michele, of all the post dated things to eat, chopped liver has got to be the worst. Can’t imagine it.

    Voodoo, what’s hurricane food?

    Lea, that’s scary. Also, fish oil sounds nasty. I didn’t know they made it.

    TP, I use soy milk in my coffee and that stuff has such a long exp. date I don’t even look at the carton. It’ll get me eventually.

    Melanie, wow, ten year old food kits? I have some old ones in my pantry, gotta admit.
    I heard the soldiers in the Vietnam War ate some canned goods left over from the Korean War.

  9. my ex mother in law was proud of her cast iron stomach and would eat anything. one day she caught me throwing out bacon that had turned GREEN (we’d been away on holiday – I don’t usually have green bacon in the fridge). she rescued it and took it home for her supper – said it would be fine once she cut the fat off it…..

    yoghurt is usually fine for a few days past the use by date. If it smells all right then I eat it.

    I wouldn’t risk 10 day old rice in the fridge. Bacillus cereus thrives in rice. the worst thing I’ve ever eaten was an off oyster in a restaurant. It was only in my mouth for about 5 seconds but it was as bad as I imagine eating faeces would be…..

  10. That is some pretty disgusting stuff Nurse, and I gotta admit, you’ve come the closest to grossing me out.

    It takes a nurse, right?

    Oh, btw, NM, I just watched Vicki Christina Barcelona and loved it. Thanks for recommending it. I think I’ll watch it again but with the sound off because the cinematography was so beautiful. Great movie.

  11. Hi Kitty,

    Even i watched that movie Vicki Christina Barcelona, Penelope Cruz action was impressive.It was like reading a Book.And i even watched the Slumdog Millionaire , it was a great movie,70% of the movie really happened and still happens in India.

    Besides, i recently i had mushrooms for the new year, after few minutes of eating i vomited completely.And i thought the mushroom is not good.But this time i cooked mushrooms [with help] and it came out real good.It was a Dry Item.I had it happily ,again after few minutes i totally vomited everything.I was confused what to do , i consulted a doctor and he said “I Think you are Allergic to mushrooms, so don’t have them”.


  12. Kitty you know about hurricane food. Hurricane food came out of the pantry, crackers, cookies, canned meat. We stock up on that sort of things when hurricane season starts. Even though we went six days with no power last summer, we still had too much food. It was heart breaking to throw every thing from the fridge and freezer after the hurricane. A friend reminded after, she has a pet pig to feed.

  13. Kumar, glad you liked Slumdog. It got nominated for a lot of Oscars recently (10, I think) and I’ll be pulling for that when they have the awards ceremony.
    It does sound like you are allergic to mushrooms. Be careful, food allergies can get worse each time you eat the offensive food.

    Voodoo, okay, I wasn’t sure if you were talking about stockpiles of food or things that went bad in the fridge after losing power for so many days.
    That fridge food you lost would have been a smorgasboard for that pig!

  14. The fridge always fills up with left overs. Because of the dish washing involved in cleaning it out. Then there is the mind game remembering when did we eat if the first time. I will start saving the antique food for the pig. I hate to waste.

  15. I have found a way to keep track of the food in the frig. We keep a small calendar on the front and I write down what we eat every day. I used to cross out foods that were used up but now I just keep the menu for each day so I can look back and see exactly how long something has been in the frig. and if it’s time to throw it out before one of us just grabs it and ends up sick.

  16. You all better stop eating all of that old crap….I really want to do the same at the moment…I made a beautiful roasted vegetable soup and don’t want to throw the rest out…its over a week old…but still looks and smells fine…but I am reminded of when I got some eggs from a gas station in Germany (non-refrigerated), they do that there…anyway…just wanted to make my son a quick breakfast before he went to school….he, thank God, was fine…..I was hospitalized for 8 days, quarantined at home for 2 weeks (someone from the state department made me sign paperwork to this effect, they came back after my 2 weeks was up to test my stool…yuk)..on the up side…I lost about 20 lbs during that time period….and of course the best thing was that my son was completely fine….thank God again that I got the bad eggs because his little, then 11 year old body could not have handled what I went through and the outcome could have been much worse…..so even if it looks good….follow at most a one week rule with foods that have no expiration date….THROW IT OUT…and don’t risk it….be careful with those eggs too. Smooches! I know, I know…you’re just gonna keep the pepto handy and hope for the best….happy eating! Autumn’s child

  17. Pingback: 2010 in review « The Show Must Go On

  18. OK. Just ate 7 day old home made chili. Reheated (not to boiling) in micro. What can I say – I was starving and it tasted soooo good. I just couldn’t toss it! Now I am scared half to death reading about the dangers of eating leftovers with ground beef and not properly reheating etc etc etc. HELP!

  19. My mom does not like to waste food and my brother doesn’t like old food, so she makes me eat all the left overs and it is about 2 weeks old now and she thinks adding more ingredients to it makes it new again s now she is making me eat it -.- …

  20. I hate to waste food and since I’m the only cook in the house I kinda know how old everything in the fridge is we waste almost nothing I eat and feed to my family food ( meat) reheats or Sammy’s up to 3 days old and most food places serve you food that is up to 3 days old anyways

  21. We ordered a 5 foot sub for the Superbowl. It was 18 days later I still had it in my fridge. I noticed the lettuce moistened the top bread and it went bad. so I scraped the lettuce and tomatoes off pulled the top piece of bread from the sub replaced it with sandwich bread, and ate it. it has only been a couple hours but as of now I’m okay.

  22. hey, I just ate my friend’s chicken biryani he had left in the fridge of the college. It was lying there for 4 weeks. But there was no smell and no moisture that usually forms inside a container that’s in the fridge for such a long time. So I microwaved it and ate it. I was craving for some biryani for such a long time. I live in Perth in Western Australia. I’m not sure if I did the right thing.

  23. I just ate 9 day old lasagna my mom made. She made it in a crock-pot so there was a lot, and that’s all I ate for the first 4 days after she made it. Tonight I was really hungry, so I looked in the fridge and saw the lasagna. When I was eating I wasn’t thinking about how old it was at all, but now, 20 minutes later, I feel sick to my stomach. She made it was veggie ground instead real beef so I thought I’d be okay, but I guess not!

  24. Haha funny i just read this, we had a thanksgiving pot luck at work and i just ate some two week old cheesecake bar treats that had miracle whip substituting the cheese filling and a heavy butter cookie crust.. at first i felt a little queezy but now, now so much. Im not sure what the evening will hold though and i fear i have made a terrible mistske.

  25. Well, I just ate about three 4 year old chocolate covered granola bars without knowing! But I don’t know what will happen, I do feel my stomach aching a little

  26. When I was really desperate I ate a can of beans that expired 5 years before consumption. I didn’t die. But I wouldnt do it again

  27. One time I found a slice of pizza in the fridge, way in the back, that was from at least a month ago. I didn’t want to deal with it, so I put it up towards the front as I was heading out to work. Later that day I get a text from my husband saying “don’t be mad, but I ate the last slice of pizza”…I was in shock…he doesn’t eat anything past 2 days old. I replied with an lol that was a month old!!!

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