It can be tempting to eat expired food, especially if you don't want to be wasteful. However, yogurt that has been stored long past its sell-by date can cause a range of bothersome side effects, and eating expired yogurt can cause gastrointestinal upset.
If you fear you've consumed expired yogurt and are experiencing side effects, seek guidance from your doctor.
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Eating Expired Yogurt
Eating expired yogurt can cause food poisoning or foodborne illness. According to Mayo Clinic, foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria that can occur through improper food handling. Bacteria also grow and accumulate on aged or improperly preserved foods, such as yogurt.
Diarrhea is a common symptom that occurs after one has consumed expired yogurt, as the body is attempting to rid itself of harmful toxins the yogurt provided. To prevent such a reaction, check expiration dates on yogurt packaging and do not consume it past the expiration date. If you experience diarrhea, be sure to consume plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Abdominal Cramping and Vomiting
Cramping in the abdominal area may also develop after consuming expired yogurt. Once you have consumed a contaminated food, there is a delay before symptoms of illness become apparent, which may last from hours to days, depending upon how much bacteria and what type of bacteria has been consumed. If you experience abdominal cramping within hours or days of eating expired yogurt, the yogurt is a probable culprit. If such cramping is severe, worsens or persists, seek medical attention.
Vomiting can occur as a result of consuming expired foods, such as yogurt. Extensive vomiting can lead to physical weakness, electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration can include dizziness, flushed skin, decreased appetite, dark urine and significant fatigue, according to Cleveland Clinic. To ensure proper health and safety, contact your doctor if vomiting or related symptoms occur after you eat expired yogurt.
Mayo Clinic also recommends seeking medical attention if you are unable to keep liquids down, have blood in your vomit or stool, have extreme pain, diarrhea for more than three day or an oral temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read more: List of Good Bacteria in Yogurt
Storage and Considerations
According to the National Dairy Council, the shelf-life of yogurt is seven to 14 days. If left out of the refrigerator, the NDC recommends consuming yogurt within two hours or less.
If it's out for two hours or less, yogurt can be put back into the fridge. However, the NDC points out that this will lessen the overall shelf-life of the product. Store yogurt and other dairy products on refrigerator shelves, rather than the door, which is the warmest place in a refrigerator.
If your yogurt has not yet passed its use-by date but smells unusual or otherwise "off," throw it away rather than risk getting sick.
To help prevent foodborne illness caused by the bacteria Listeria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends only consuming yogurt made from pasteurized milk — this process kills harmful bacteria.