String cheese is a fun, portable snack that’s loved by kids and adults alike. But can you get sick from eating string cheese past its expiration date? Here’s a detailed look at what happens if you eat expired string cheese.
Can String Cheese Go Bad?
Yes, absolutely – string cheese can definitely go bad past its expiration date. Like any dairy product, string cheese can spoil due to bacteria growth.
The main bacteria of concern in cheese is lactobacillus. As this bacteria multiples, it causes the proteins and fats in the cheese to break down. This leads to souring, discoloration, development of slime, mold growth and unpleasant odors.
So signs that your string cheese has spoiled include:
- Mold growth – may appear as fuzzy white, blue, green or black spots
- Slimy texture – cheese should not be sticky or slimy
- Sour smell – should still have a mild dairy scent
- Discoloration – excessive drying, crumbling or unnatural colors
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the string cheese.
Is It Safe to Eat Expired String Cheese?
The answer really depends on how expired we’re talking and how the cheese was stored.
Here are some general guidelines on expired string cheese:
- Unopened string cheese is generally safe to eat 1-2 weeks past the printed sell by or expiration date, provided it was stored properly in the fridge.
- Opened string cheese should be eaten within 1 week of opening. It’s best to discard any opened string cheese after 7-10 days.
- If your string cheese is past its expiration date, inspect it closely before eating. Use your best judgment – if there are any signs of spoilage, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The shelf life does depend on storage conditions. If stored in the back of the fridge in original packaging, unopened string cheese lasts longer.
Health Risks of Eating Spoiled String Cheese
Consuming spoiled, moldy or contaminated string cheese can cause foodborne illness. Potential health risks include:
- Upset stomach – symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping
- Food poisoning – from bacterial toxins like those produced by staph, listeria, e. coli, salmonella
- Allergic reaction – some people are sensitive to molds and can have an allergic response
- Illness – Listeria, E.coli and Salmonella are risks if cheese was contaminated and bacteria grew. Can cause fever, chills, bloody stool.
Groups at higher risk for severe illness include pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems.
If string cheese has visible mold, it’s safest to discard as mold can contain mycotoxins. In some cases just a small amount of contaminated string cheese can cause illness.
How to Store String Cheese Properly
Proper storage is key for maximizing the shelf life of your string cheese. Here are some top tips:
- Keep unopened string cheese in its original packaging until you are ready to eat it. The plastic packaging helps protect it.
- Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or a zip top plastic bag, squeezing out excess air.
- Store all string cheese in the refrigerator, ideally at 40°F or below. The colder the better for slowing bacteria growth.
- Freeze for long term storage. With proper wrapping, string cheese can be frozen for 6-8 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before eating.
Following these simple storage guidelines helps preventstring cheese from going bad prematurely.
Identifying Spoiled String Cheese
It’s important to inspect string cheese closely before eating, especially if past the expiration date. Here’s what to look for:
- Mold – This is the most obvious sign of spoilage. May appear as fuzzy spots of white, blue, green or black. Discard moldy cheese.
- Sliminess – Fresh string cheese should have a firm texture. Slimy, sticky cheese indicates spoilage.
- Odor – Cheese should smell mild, without any sour, bitter or “off” odors. Strong bad smells mean don’t eat.
- Discoloration – Yellow or brown tinges, instead of white color can indicate aging cheese. Drying, crumbling and excessive dryness are also red flags for spoiled cheese.
Use both your eyes and nose. When in doubt, remember it’s better to be safe than sick.
What To Do If You Eat Bad String Cheese
Hopefully you’ll be able to catch spoiled string cheese before eating it. But if you do accidentally consume bad string cheese, here’s what to do:
- Drink fluids like water, juice, broths to prevent dehydration from diarrhea or vomiting.
- Watch for symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea over the next 24 hours.
- Call your doctor if you have severe symptoms like fever over 101°F, bloody stool, vomiting that won’t stop. You may need medical treatment.
- Don’t panic, but do pay attention to your body’s signals.
- Contact poison control or your doctor if concerned you have food poisoning.
- Discard any remaining cheese from that package so you don’t accidentally eat more.
- Also check expiration dates on other refrigerated items and discard any expired, spoiled foods. Better safe than repeating the situation!
- Learn from the experience – be diligent about expiration dates and signs of spoilage before eating foods in the future.
While eating expired string cheese is generally mild, it’s best to take precaution in case of contamination or allergic reaction. Seek medical care if you have severe symptoms after eating bad cheese. With proper handling and storage, you can enjoy string cheese without worry long after the purchase date. Just remember to use your senses before taking a bite.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.