Last Updated on June 19, 2023 by Shari Mason
Bread is a staple food in many households, and it’s no surprise that people often have a loaf or two tucked away in their pantry or fridge. But what happens when the “best by” date on the packaging has come and gone?
Is eating bread past its expiration date still safe, or should it be tossed out?
We’ll explore whether or not it’s safe to eat bread past the “best by” date and what you should look out for when deciding whether to keep or toss your loaf.
Is It Okay To Eat Bread Past The “Best By” Date?
Generally, it is okay to eat bread  past the “best by” date, but it may not be as fresh or tasty as before the date. The “best by” date is not an expiration date, and it serves only as a recommendation for when the bread is at its peak freshness and quality.
If you notice any visible signs of spoilage, such as mold or an unusual odor, it is best to discard the bread.
However, if the bread has been appropriately stored in a cool, dry place, it may still be safe to eat after the “best-by” date has passed.
Ultimately, it is up to your judgment to decide whether or not to eat bread past the “best by” date, but if in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and discard it.
What Is The “Best By” Date, & What Does It Mean?
The “best by” date is a recommendation provided by the food product manufacturer, including bread, indicating when the product is at its peak freshness and quality.
It is not the same as the expiration date, which indicates when a product is no longer safe to consume.
“I love a sandwich you can barely fit in your mouth because there’s so much stuff on it. The bread should not be the main thing on a sandwich.”– Adrianne Palicki, American Actress
The “best by” date is determined by the manufacturer based on factors such as product formulation, processing, packaging, and storage requirements.
It is important to note that the “best by” date is only a recommendation and does not necessarily indicate that the product is no longer safe to consume after that date.
Factors That Determine Whether Or Not Bread Is Still Safe
- Storage: How the bread has been stored can impact its shelf life. Bread stored in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or breadbox, is more likely to remain fresh and safe to eat for longer than bread exposed to moisture and heat. Moisture can encourage mold and bacteria growth, while heat can cause the bread to dry out or become stale.
- Type of bread: The type of bread can also impact its shelf life. Some types of bread, such as sourdough  or artisanal bread, have a lower moisture content and may last longer than bread with higher moisture content, such as white bread or sandwich bread.
- Ingredients: The ingredients used to make the bread can also impact its shelf life. Bread containing preservatives or additives may have a longer shelf life than bread without.
- Packaging: The packaging used for the bread can also impact its shelf life. Bread packaged in airtight containers or bags may last longer than bread packaged in paper or open containers.
- Visible signs of spoilage: The visible signs of spoilage, such as mold or an unusual odor, indicating that the bread is no longer safe to eat. If you notice any visible signs of spoilage, it is best to discard the bread.
How Can You Tell If Bread Has Gone Bad?
- Appearance: If there are visible signs of mold on the bread, such as green, black, or white spots, it has gone bad and should be discarded. Mold can produce toxins that can cause illness, so avoiding moldy bread is essential.
- Smell: Bread that has gone bad may have a sour, musty, or rancid odor. If the bread smells unusual or unpleasant, it may have spoiled and should be discarded.
- Texture: Stale bread may have a hard, dry texture and be challenging to chew or swallow. If the bread is dehydrated or has a hard texture, it may have gone stale and be less enjoyable to eat, but it’s still safe to consume.
- Taste: Bread that has gone bad may have an unusual or unpleasant taste and may cause a sour or bitter aftertaste. If the bread tastes off or different than usual, it may have spoiled and should be discarded.
What Can You Do With Bread That Is Past The “Best By” Date?
- Toast it: Toasting bread can help freshen it up and make it more enjoyable. Slice the bread and toast it until it’s crispy and golden brown.
- Make bread crumbs: You can use stale bread to make bread crumbs, which can be used in various recipes. Pulse the bread in a food processor until it’s broken down into small crumbs, then store the crumbs in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Make croutons: Stale bread can also be used to make croutons, which can be added to salads, soups, and other dishes. Cut the bread into small cubes, toss them with olive oil and seasoning, and bake in the oven until crispy and golden brown.
- Make French toast: Stale bread is perfect for making French toast, absorbing the egg mixture well and holding up to cooking. Dip the bread in an egg mixture, then cook it in a pan until golden brown.
- Freeze it: If you have a lot of bread you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad, you can freeze it to extend its shelf life. Wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer until ready to use. When ready to eat the bread, thaw it at room temperature or in the microwave.
Can you eat bread two weeks out of date?
It depends on several factors, including how the bread has been stored, the type of bread, and any visible signs of spoilage. If the bread has been stored correctly and has no signs of spoilage, it may still be safe to eat after two weeks past its “best by” date.
However, it’s essential to scrutinize the bread before consuming it and use your judgment. If you notice any visible signs of spoilage, such as mold or an unusual odor, it’s best to discard the bread.
What happens if you eat expired bread?
Eating expired bread can lead to foodborne illness or food poisoning. The bread may contain harmful bacteria or mold that can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever.
It is essential to scrutinize the bread and avoid consuming it if it has any visible signs of spoilage or an unusual odor. If you have consumed expired bread and experience any symptoms of foodborne illness, seek medical attention immediately.
The “best by” date on bread packaging serves as a recommendation for when the bread is at its peak freshness and quality, but it does not necessarily indicate that the bread is no longer safe to eat.
Whether or not bread is still safe to eat past the “best by” date depends on several factors, including how it has been stored, the type of bread, and the presence of any visible signs of spoilage.
If the bread has been stored correctly and shows no signs of spoilage, eating past the “best by” date may still be safe. However, it’s always essential to scrutinize the bread and use your judgment.
If you notice any visible signs of spoilage or an unusual odor, it’s best to discard the bread to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.
In summary, while eating bread past the “best by” date is generally safe, it’s essential to use caution and good judgment when deciding whether to keep or discard bread.
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