How Long Can You Eat Bacon After the Expiration Date?

Nothing quite hits the spot like sizzling bacon in the morning. But what if you discover a pack in the back of your fridge that’s passed its expiration date? Should you toss it or take a chance? Let’s explore how long bacon can safely be eaten after the expiration date.

Overview of Bacon Expiration Dates

  • Bacon packages have sell by or use by dates printed on them typically lasting 1-2 weeks refrigerated.

  • These dates indicate peak freshness and quality, not necessarily safety.

  • Unopened continuously refrigerated bacon may still be fine to eat 1-2 weeks past the printed date.

  • Opened bacon should be eaten within 5-7 days for best quality.

  • Proper storage, handling, and inspection are key to determining if expired bacon is edible.

Can Eating Expired Bacon Make You Sick?

Eating spoiled, contaminated bacon can potentially cause foodborne illness. Key risks include:

  • Salmonella – Causes diarrhea, fever, vomiting.

  • Listeria monocytogenes – Causes fever, muscle aches, nausea.

  • E. coli – Causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea.

  • Staphylococcus aureus – Causes nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps.

So while bacon can sometimes be safely eaten past its date, you must ensure it hasn’t become contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Rely on your senses.

How To Tell If Bacon Has Gone Bad

Check bacon for these signs of spoilage before eating:

  • Slimy or sticky texture and appearance

  • Unpleasant sour, rancid or ammonia-like odor

  • Change in color – greyish, greenish, or blue tones

  • Mold growth – dry fuzzy spots, usually green or white

  • Significantly dried out, shriveled, or hard texture

When inspecting, remember – if in doubt, throw it out! Safety first.

Can You Freeze Bacon To Extend Its Shelf Life?

Yes, freezing can prolong the shelf life of unopened bacon significantly.

  • Unopened bacon lasts 4-6 months in the freezer past the printed date.

  • Opened bacon lasts 2-3 months in the freezer.

  • Use freezer bags and squeeze out excess air.

  • Thaw overnight in fridge before using.

  • Don’t refreeze thawed bacon – cook within 3-5 days.

Proper Bacon Storage Guidelines

Storing bacon properly helps maximize shelf life:

  • Keep refrigerated at 40°F or below always, even if unopened.

  • Leave bacon in original packaging until ready to use.

  • Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil.

  • Use opened packages within 5-7 days.

  • Freeze for longer term storage.

  • Avoid introducing extra moisture when storing.

  • Pat dry with paper towels before refrigerating or freezing.

Cooking and Handling Bacon Safely

Follow food safety practices when cooking and eating bacon:

  • Always cook raw bacon thoroughly to 145°F minimum internal temperature.

  • Never leave bacon sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

  • Refrigerate cooked bacon within 1 hour – don’t leave out.

  • Reheat cooked bacon to 165°F until steaming hot before eating again.

  • When reheating, bring to a boil if using bacon in soups, stews or casseroles.

  • Discard any bacon that smells or looks questionable.

How To Use Up Bacon Before It Spoils

No one likes wasting food. Try these tips for using up bacon before it expires:

  • Cook a large batch of bacon on the weekend to use in meals throughout the week.

  • Dice up cooked bacon and freeze in portions to add to future dishes.

  • Crumble slightly spoiled bits of bacon over salads, bakes or soups. The high heat will kill any bacteria.

  • Render the bacon fat by cooking it low and slow. Store the rendered fat in the fridge or freezer.

  • Make bacon jam or bacon bits by cooking it down into a spread or topping.

The Takeaway – Trust Your Senses!

The expiration or use by date on bacon packaging isn’t an absolute measure of safety. With proper storage and inspection, unopened bacon may last 1-2 weeks past its date without making you sick.

Always rely on your eyes, nose and common sense. Thoroughly cook expired bacon to destroy any potential bacteria. If it smells funky or looks off – play it safe and throw it out!

FAQs About Eating Bacon After Its Expiration Date

How long can you keep vacuum sealed bacon past the expiration date?

Vacuum sealed bacon will maintain quality longer than non-vacuum sealed. If continuously refrigerated, vacuum sealed bacon should be safe for up to 2 weeks past the printed date, but may start deteriorating in quality after 1 week.

What happens if you freeze bacon too long past its expiration date?

While freezing preserves bacon, the quality declines rapidly the longer past its date it’s frozen. Bacon frozen for longer than 2-3 months will suffer severe freezer burn and the texture will turn inedible.

Is it safe to eat bacon that smells a little off but doesn’t look spoiled?

No, it’s best to discard bacon that smells off or rancid, even if it doesn’t show visual signs of spoilage. Bacteria invisible to the eye can be present and make you sick. Don’t take risks when it comes to food safety.

Can you get food poisoning from bacon that’s gone bad?

Yes, you absolutely can get severe food poisoning or stomach flu symptoms from eating bacon that’s spoiled. Harmful bacteria like salmonella can multiply, making it extremely unsafe. Always discard expired, questionable bacon.

How can you tell if thawed frozen bacon has gone bad?

Inspect thawed bacon closely. Signs it may be spoiled include an off smell, sticky or slimy texture, and unnatural coloration. If it smells and looks normal, cook it fully until steaming hot before eating to kill any bacteria.

Does cooking or frying bacon kill bacteria if it’s expired?

Thorough cooking of expired bacon to at least 145°F internal temperature will kill most bacteria present. However, some toxins can withstand high heat. It’s still safer to discard expired bacon than risk getting sick.

The key takeaway is to rely on your senses and exercise caution. While bacon can sometimes last a bit past its printed expiration date, it’s not worth taking risks with your health. When in doubt, throw it out! Follow safe food handling practices and enjoy bacon safely.

Expired Bacon Experiment

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