Is it OK to eat expired chocolate?
In most cases it is perfectly fine to eat chocolate past the sell by date depending on how it was stored, according to Eat By Date, a consumer advocacy website dedicated to the shelf life of food.
Chocolate never truly “expires,” so nothing will happen if you eat it past the expiration date. As long as it's stored properly and not exhibiting any other signs of spoilage, most chocolate will remain edible and yummy up to two or three years past the listed date.
Can old chocolate make you sick? If you feel badly after eating any chocolate product, throw the rest of it out and don't buy it again. Old chocolate can make you sick if it's been tainted with something or if one of the added ingredients has expired, such as milk powder.
Dark chocolate, with its higher cacao content, can be good to eat for as long as three years past the best before. Due to their high milk contents, milk and white chocolates might not last as long as dark, but their longevity is still nothing to sniff at — you can expect to get another 8 months or so out of it.
Chocolate can last a long time, she adds, but it often develops a white coating, known as the "bloom", when it's exposed to the air. This happens when some of the crystalline fat melts and rises to the top. It's not mould, she says, and it's fine to eat.
Chocolate bars are best eaten as fresh as possible, but they can still be considered edible a few months after the best before date printed on the packaging. Some chocolate professionals also believe that chocolate becomes better as time goes by. Like wine, some new flavors may develop in the chocolate bar with aging.
That white discoloration that sometimes forms on old chocolate turns the stomachs of chocolate lovers everywhere. For years, researchers have known that the harmless change, known as a fat bloom, is caused by liquid fat such as cocoa butter migrating through the chocolate and crystalizing on the candy's surface.
If you're seeing cracks or dots on the surface of the chocolate, odds are it's dried out quite a bit since its days as fresh chocolate, and has gone stale. And if there's mold on the chocolate, throw it away immediately. If it looks like regular chocolate, it will almost definitely taste like chocolate.
If your chocolate smells bad or has any kind of mold, it's time to throw it in the trash. And if there are any cracks on the surface, chances are that the chocolate is stale and past its prime. Use your best judgment: If it looks and smells like chocolate, it'll likely taste like chocolate.
The only way it can get moldy is if it was exposed to water/humidity. If your milk chocolate bar is wrapped well, this likely won't happen. So long story short, solid chocolate bars rarely ever go moldy, especially if still sealed in their original packaging. That's also what makes chocolate excellent for prepping.
Is it OK to eat chocolate that has turned white?
(Spoiler alert, it's still safe to eat!) This white film does not mean the chocolate is moldy or has gone bad. It's actually just a scientific process called “chocolate bloom”. There are two types of this bloom: sugar bloom and fat bloom.
However, fatty foods such as chocolate, which are contaminated with Salmonella, can also cause an infection with Salmonella. In the case of chocolate, even small amounts of germs can be enough to cause a disease.
As bacteria can't live in chocolate, chocolates don't have a use by date. Even if a bloom does appear, or your chocolate has a peculiar smell to it, it will still be safe to consume.
Chocolate bloom can be repaired by melting the chocolate down, stirring it, then pouring it into a mold and allowing it to cool, bringing the fat back into the solution. You can also re-temper the chocolate to regain its glory: all the shine, snap, and stability that you expect from tempered chocolate.
The good news is that whatever type of bloom is affecting your chocolate, it's still completely safe to eat. Ultimately, chocolate bloom doesn't affect the taste or shelf life of your chocolate, you just have to accept a slightly different appearance — which can still be frustrating if you're giving it as a gift!
Here is how you can tell the difference between mold and bloom: Moldy chocolate has white fuzz growing above its surface and will feel fuzzy to the touch. Bloomed chocolate has a chalky layer or grey/white streaks on its surface and will feel slick to the touch.
If left to ferment for too long, spore forming bacteria, such as Bacillus, and molds can take over. Spore former growth leads to production of off flavors in the chocolate. Mold can negatively impact the flavor and safety.
Once contaminated, bacterial pathogens are able to survive for long periods of time and survive standard thermal treatments due to the low moisture and high fat content of chocolate.
Anything moldy can make you sick – including chocolate. However, there's a difference between a moldy chocolate bar and one with “bloom” on it. The bloom (white coating) is safe to consume, while a green mold is not safe to eat.
"If you do eat a food past the expiration date [and the food] is spoiled, you could develop symptoms of food poisoning," said registered dietitian nutritionist Summer Yule, MS. The symptoms of foodborne illness can include fever, chills, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
How Long Can chocolate poisoning take?
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually appear within 2-12 hours and can last for days. In severe cases toxicity can cause: Fast breathing or panting. Shaking, trembling and tremors.
Eating chocolate that's past its expiration date shouldn't cause food poisoning as long as it's been stored the right way. That said, when any food is not stored or handled properly, it can increase the likelihood of getting food-borne illness, according to the USDA.
The most common clinical signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and racing heart rate. In severe cases, symptoms can include muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure.
- Avoid solid foods until vomiting ends. Then eat light, bland foods, such as saltine crackers, bananas, rice, or bread.
- Sipping liquids may help avoid vomiting.
- Don't eat fried, greasy, spicy, or sweet foods.
- Don't take anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medication without asking your doctor.
There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity. Induction of vomiting must be done within 2 hours of chocolate ingestion to be effective. If you are too far from the veterinary clinic, your vet may ask that you induce vomiting at home.