15 Foods That Should Never be Eaten Beyond Their Expiration Date 

While some foods may come with a little extra wiggle room, certain treats should never, ever be consumed after their sell-by date. Here are 15 examples that you should never mess with after their expiration date.

Eggs

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Here’s the deal with eggs: once they’re past their prime, it’s a big no-no to eat them. You might think, “Eh, they’re probably fine,” but trust me, old eggs can be a breeding ground for nasty stuff like Salmonella. The general guideline is that they can be safely eaten for 3-5 weeks after the date of purchase, as long as they are stored properly in a refrigerator.

Shellfish

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Shellfish should be eaten within 24 hours after their sell-by date. Beyond this period, they should be frozen to extend their shelf life. Shellfish can harbor some pretty harmful bacteria and viruses. Hepatitis A is no joke, and it’s something you might risk if you’re not careful. So, if there’s any doubt about their freshness, just chuck them out.

Mayonnaise

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Store-bought mayo might seem harmless, but once it’s been hanging around for a while, especially after opening, it can turn against you. It’s made with eggs, right? That means it can become a playground for bacteria. You definitely don’t want to mess with the digestive nightmares it can cause.

Ground Meat

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Ground meat – whether it’s beef, pork, or poultry – needs to be super fresh. Because of its larger surface area, it’s like a party zone for bacteria like E. coli. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it’s true: you’ve got to eat it or freeze it pretty quickly after buying.

Reader’s Digest notes, “The USDA says that ground meat should be eaten or frozen within two days of purchase—whether it’s beef, pork, turkey, lamb or another type.”

Raw Milk

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Raw milk is kind of a controversial topic. Sure, it’s all natural, but it can also be home to some seriously dangerous microorganisms. We’re talking about stuff that can cause more than just a stomach ache – like kidney failure or worse. It’s a real gamble to drink it past its prime.

Mushrooms

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Old mushrooms? Just don’t. They might look okay, but over time, they can develop harmful bacteria and toxins. If they’re slimy or discolored, that’s nature’s way of saying, “Stay away.”

Berries

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Berries are great, but they can turn into mold factories pretty quickly. It’s the moisture and natural sugars in them that mold loves. Eating moldy berries isn’t just gross, it can actually make you pretty sick.

Pre-Packaged Greens

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Pre-packaged greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and kale, are often convenient for busy individuals. However, they can become contaminated with E. coli (or other harmful bacteria) if stored improperly or consumed beyond their expiration date.

Sprouts

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Sprouts might look all healthy and innocent, but they can be deceptive. Because of the warm, humid conditions they need to grow, they can also be a hotspot for bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. It’s better to play it safe and avoid old sprouts.

Soft Cheeses

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Although certain cheeses are meant to age, soft cheeses like brie, camembert, and ricotta aren’t in this category. As they age, these cheeses can develop harmful bacteria and molds, which can lead to food poisoning if consumed.

Taste of Home says that “softer cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, or goat cheese, are more susceptible to mold and bacteria and should be tossed at the first sign of spoiling or once the expiration date has passed, whichever comes first.”

Sushi

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Sushi is a delicious delicacy, but it’s also pretty delicate when it comes to freshness. The raw fish in sushi can harbor bacteria, so eating it past its prime is a recipe for foodborne illness. Always eat sushi as fresh as possible.

Deli Meats

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Deli meats seem like a convenient snack, but they can turn against you if they’re stored too long. They can become a cozy home for Listeria, and eating them past their sell-by date is particularly risky for pregnant women. If they smell a bit off or look slimy, it’s time for them to go.

Delish says, “Moisture combined with a lack of salt speeds up spoilage in foods like deli meats while dry foods such as rice and pasta enjoy longer shelf lives . . . If your cold cuts smell sour or look slimy, it’s time to toss them.”

Chicken

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Chicken is a staple in many diets, but outdated chicken is a common source of food poisoning. If it’s harboring bacteria like Salmonella or Campylobacter, you could be in for a rough time. Symptoms like diarrhea and fever are not something you want to mess with.

Raw Oysters

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Raw oysters are a treat, but they can also be risky. They can carry some pretty serious viruses and bacteria, and these nasties multiply quickly in oysters that aren’t fresh or properly stored. So, always be cautious with your oysters.

Leftovers

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Finally, leftover food from the previous days can be a source of foodborne illnesses if not stored and reheated properly. Pathogenic bacteria multiply every 20 minutes at room temperature, transforming even the most delicious leftovers into a serious health risk.

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