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The Dangers of Expired Soy Products

author image Matthew Lee
Matthew Lee has been writing professionally since 2007. Past and current research projects have explored the effect of a diagnosis of breast cancer on lifestyle and mental health and adherence to lifestyle-based (i.e. nutrition and exercise) and drug therapy treatment programs. He holds a Master of Arts in psychology from Carleton University and is working toward his doctorate in health psychology.
The Dangers of Expired Soy Products
Eating expired soy products, like soy milk and edamame, can be dangerous. Photo Credit: razmarinka/iStock/Getty Images

Soybean-based products are nutrient rich with high amounts of protein and a full amino acid profile, making it an effective protein for vegetarians. Soy products that include tofu, soy milk and soy meats are a healthful source of protein that are easy to incorporate into your diet. Although the dangers of eating expired soy products are not as severe as those associated with meat, expired soy does have risks.

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Soy Sauce

There is no risk associated with consuming expired soy sauce.
There is no risk associated with consuming expired soy sauce. Photo Credit: ffolas/iStock/Getty Images

This topping, common in East Asian cuisine, is know for its dark, rich texture and salty flavor. Largely owing to its high salt content, soya sauce has a shelf life much longer than other soy products. If unopened, a bottle of soy sauce can last for years without going bad. While this is shortened to three months if opened, no dangers are associated with eating expired soy sauce.

Soy Milk

A mug of soy milk.
A mug of soy milk. Photo Credit: yingyo/iStock/Getty Images

Similar to dairy-based milk products, soy milk has a relatively short fridge life once opened. Fresh for seven to 10 days after opening, refrigerated soy milk cartons begin to bloat once they begin to expire. This bloating stems from the gas output of molds and bacteria feeding on your milk, causing it to change in color, become lumpy and smell sour. With signs of expiry similar to those of dairy milk, drinking expired soy milk can cause reactions similar to those associated with expired milk. Although the side-effects are not serious, drinking expired soy milk can lead to symptoms of food poisoning such as upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Soy Meats

With a taste and texture similar to that of meat, soy-based replacements for almost any meat product can now be found at grocery stores and vegetarian restaurants. Fortified with minerals similar to those found in meat products, soy meats are often made with wheat as a binding agent. To know when your soy meats have expired, look for a slimy texture and sour smell. These signs indicate that a mold is growing on, and possibly in, your soy meats. Because of their wheat content, the dangers of eating expired soy meats can be more serious than those of other soy products. Though rare, the presence of molds called mycotoxins, such as the potentially cancer-causing alfatoxin, can lead to serious stomach illnesses with chronic, long-lasting symptoms similar to those of food poisoning.

Soybeans and Edamame

Raw soybeans should be bright green and firm.
Raw soybeans should be bright green and firm. Photo Credit: luknaja/iStock/Getty Images

Edamame is a Japanese snack made by boiling and salting entire pods of fresh soybeans. Similar to other fresh vegetables, beans and legumes, edamame has a short fridge life. Expired edamame is indicated by a change in color and texture, with bruising and the development of a light fur on the surface indicating the presence of mold. While dry soybeans only become soft and develop a poor taste after expiry, eating raw soybeans that have expired may lead to symptoms of mild food poisoning similar to those associated with drinking expired soy milk. Although such dangers are limited, you should never consume expired soy products if you think that they have expired.

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