Can Frozen Food Go Bad?- A Guide On How Long Does Food Last After Exipration?

Can Frozen Food Go Bad: Almost all of us have the habit of keeping our leftover food in the fridge to keep it fresh and eat later on, but have you ever thought about how long the food will stay in your freezer?

While freezing we may wonder does frozen food goes bad if left out, how long can frozen food stay in the car, etc. In this article, we are going to elaborate on all such queries and tell you does frozen food goes bad if left out or in the freezer along with some tips to store food in the freezer properly.

Can Frozen Food Go Bad

Can Frozen Food Go Bad in the Freezer?

The freezer can be your life savior if you are somebody who likes storing leftovers or packaged foods and making stock-ups for the future to keep them fresh and edible for a long period of time. But Can refrigerated foods go bad too? Yes, Frozen Foods can go bad too if not stored and frozen properly. The ideal temperature for freezing food is -18 degrees Celsius or 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but proper storage is important also.

It is true that sometimes frozen foods may last forever but the quality and taste will degrade over time. Even though the food may not rot on itself it might be damaged by the action of bacteria, enzymes, microbes, fungi, etc. The freezer has its own limits and depending upon the composition and stability of various compounds in the food items stored, their lasting power eventually varies.

Does Frozen Food Go Out of Date?

Yes, frozen foods can sometimes go out of date. Well, this question is extremely subjective because every prepared or packaged food behaves differently. Some may stay the way they are for a longer period of time and for others the flavor, color, texture, or taste may decrease in quality. First, we need to understand what these suggestive dates of expiration in frozen foods mean:

  • Best use by or use by:  This is the date till which the product is expected to remain in its highest quality.
  • Sell by:  is the date, especially for the stores which means that the shopkeeper must try to sell these packages by this date so that it’s purchased and the food retains its topmost flavor and quality.
  • Freeze by: This date mainly refers to the time till which the food must be frozen to keep its nutritional value, taste, and quality up to the mark.

Precisely, none of these dates are quite accurate or actual expiration dates so they do not indicate that the food will be unsafe if you go past these days. Some perishable foods might go bad if they are frozen and kept in the refrigerator beyond these use-by dates.

Storing food at 0 degrees F in the refrigerator is the most accurate temperature to curb all chances of spoilage. But if it is a domestic freezer that is opened often then the foods may rise to temperatures higher than zero degrees and spoil.

Can Frozen Food Go Bad

How Long Does Frozen Food Last After the Expiration Date?

If we take out foods whose expiration dates have passed, then the food might be safe but not edible at the same time. Most foods fall prey to freezer burns or drying out in which the food remains safe but highly not edible because of all its ingredients being dried out. This also happens if certain foods are not frozen and stored properly.

So if you are wondering can frozen foods go off then yes, it happens if you improperly store food and then allow it to reach temperatures of zero degrees F and above. The food becomes extremely dangerous for our health and lets out a foul smell when we thaw into it. Now let us see a simple chart that will show you the different food categories and their lengths of storage.

Fruits and vegetables 8 to 12 months
Raw beef, meat, chicken, pork 3 to 4 months
Cooked fish 4 to 6 months
Raw eggs 12 months
Processed meat, bacon, sausage 1 to 2 months
Casseroles and storage containers 3 to 4 months
Turkey whole 12 months
Raw roasts or steaks 4 to 12 months
Milk Up to 1 month
Butter, bread, and grated cheese 3 to 4 months
Cakes and ras pastry 6 to 8 months
Ham 1 month

Tips to Store Frozen Food Fresh For A Long Time

Here are some of the simple steps that you follow to keep your frozen food safe for a long time:

  • Try to keep a thermometer or any other temperature-measuring device inside your freezer to make sure that the temperature stays at 0 degrees F.
  • Limit the number of times you open the freezer as much as possible to let the foods stay at 0 degrees F and don’t rise above that.
  • While storing cooked items do not insert them directly into the freezer when hot. First, cool them out completely in room-temperature air and then insert them into the freezer at zero degrees F.

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Can You Get Sick from Eating Old Frozen Food?

Frozen Food if kept for an undesirable long amount of time in the freezer will fall prey to various microbial reactions, bacterial invasion, fungus, etc. So if you eat that food it is obviously not healthy for your body and may fall you sick at times as well.

Even if the food is technically safe to eat, it will deteriorate over time in quality and become unappetizing when defrosted to eat. You can also get sick due to entities like Salmonella or ecoli giving you a rough day filled with indigestion problems like diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and prolonged discomfort.

How do you Know If Frozen Food Is Bad?

While studying how frozen foods go bad in the freezer the most important thing is to be able to examine when the frozen food has turned bad. Well, let’s see the steps to detect whether your frozen food has gone bad or not:

Freezer Burn – Freezer burn happens if frozen foods have been exposed to air unnecessarily for long periods of time. The food will have all its nutrients and ingredients dried out resulting in an undesirable texture and lacks in quality and taste as well. Proteins like chicken, pork, fish, etc. will lack their original flavor even after cooking. In case of partial Freezer-burn try to cut off the Freezer burned portions and eat the rest.

Texture – Remember that some bad frozen foods can be made out just by having a look at their texture. If your food has a mushy or slimy texture then it has been spoilt by bacteria, if your food is showing a white cottony texture that means it has been infected by fungus, etc.

Smell – Smell is the universal indicator of bad or stale foods Once you thaw into your frozen food, try to smell it properly taking sufficient time. If your food lets out even the slightest amount of foul, rancid, or rotten smell throw it out or into your dustbin immediately.

Colour – Colour is not a very precise indicator of whether frozen foods are fresh or spoilt because many foods when frozen tend to change in color. Fading or darkening in the food color in addition to a foul smell or texture change to slimy or powdery may indicate spoilage.

FAQs on Does Frozen Food Go Bad

1. Can you get sick from eating expired frozen food?

Foods if kept for an indefinitely long time may stay unrotten but get eventually damaged due to bacterial invasion, enzymes, and microbial reactions. These can cause diarrhea and food poisoning due to Salmonella or ecoli.

2. How can you tell if frozen food is bad?

Yes if frozen food turns bad you can easily make it out through its appearance which may turn slimy due to bacteria, white fur-like due to fungus, etc., and smell that will turn foul or texture that dries out.

3. Can you eat frozen food after 2 years?

The answer to this question solely depends on the food category. Certain raw foods, packaged or canned products can be frozen and stored for 2 years sometimes depending upon their expiry dates. But for other categories like cooked foods, dairy products, etc. 2 years is too long to keep them intact.

4. How long does it take frozen food to go bad?

The time your frozen food will take to go bad depends on your freezer’s temperature range.

5. Can frozen fish go bad?

Raw stays in the freezer for 6 months, lean fish for 6 to 8 months, oily fish for 3 months, vacuum-sealed fish portions, for one year, cooked shellfish for 3 months, crabs and lobsters for 10 months, smoked fish for 2 months, fresh crawfish, squid, scallops, starfish, etc. for 3 to 6 months.


Wrapping things up, these expiration dates or use-by dates embossed in food items are given for our benefit to estimate the time span for which the food will remain in its utmost quality. So ignoring these dates and eating frozen foods passed their expiry dates will be foolish and at the same time unsafe for your health.

Whenever you have any food left over or are planning to store food for a long time then make sure you follow all the instructions mentioned above. Never ignore the signs of spoilt frozen food and stay safe. Bookmark our site to avail latest updates on Can Vacuum Sealed Food Go Bad, etc.

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