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I just made twice baked potatoes - and started by adding 3 tsps. of unsalted butter to the meat of 5 large baking potatoes. After adding the butter and starting to mash some of the potatoes, I did a taste test - tasted kind of "off". I then thought to look at the expiration date on the butter - 4 years ago!!! I finished the assembly with regular fresh butter sour cream, etc. and the potatoes taste fine.

Question: will eating these make my family sick? Should I throw them out and start all over?

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    You have to ask yourself, do you feel lucky? Huh? Well do you? Seriously how much is not risking food born illness worth? The cost of the potatoes and sour cream cannot be very much. How much risk are you willing to undertake to avoid their loss? – SAJ14SAJ Apr 4 '14 at 23:58
  • I take it the butter was in the fridge, not the freezer? – Cascabel Apr 5 '14 at 0:36
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    Butter in freezer lasts forever – TFD Apr 5 '14 at 8:25
  • Did it not smell rancid? Butter lasts a long time, sure, but after 4 years I have to assume it smells like bad meat... – Aaronut Apr 5 '14 at 12:32
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There's no 100% answer to that question, we cannot say certainly whether they will make people ill, however there's not a single person on this site who will recommend that you eat it, which is a good indication. Even if you are lucky enough that there aren't harmful pathogens in the butter it will taste awful, which is another good reason to chuck it and start over.

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