Are there any dangers of eating food that's slightly past its prime? Say there's no visible mold or any other signs of spoiling, but the smell and taste aren't quite as good as they were right after the good was prepared.

I'm guessing it depends on exactly what ingredients are in the food, so what ingredients should be avoided even if slightly past their prime? Are most things fine?

  • Welcome to the site! Unfortunately this is too broad because there are too many variables: type of food, method of preservation, how it's been stored, etc. There are also many, many questions on this site about food safety which have good answers, I suggest having a look at those and then coming back with more specifics.
    – GdD
    Apr 28, 2019 at 22:05
  • Spicing tends to peak on day two. Apr 29, 2019 at 1:43
  • I know you are trying to find a border between "old but still good" and "spoiled", but it doesn't exist - declaring food spoiled is a purely subjective thing. And the result of eating spoiled food cannot be predicted anyway, as the linked quesiton explains. So, if you are going not by food safety rules but by trying to determine if it is spoiled, it doesn't matter if it feels fully spoiled to you or not, you are in the same situation of uncertainly as described in the other question.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 29, 2019 at 12:41
  • @GdD Yeah, I can see how this is too broad. I'll edit it later. It's not like the one that was a duplicate though, as that one was asking about food that was completely spoiled. Although rumtscho makes a good point that it's fairly vague at all points anyway.
    – RothX
    Apr 30, 2019 at 0:26

2 Answers 2


What sort of food?

Many, if not most foods sold at room temperature are perfectly fine some time after their date, which is usually a best before (quality) date.

Most chilled foods have a use by date, which is about safety while there's some margin built in to this, no one's going to tell you it's safe to eat things after their use by date, because sometimes it's not. Most home-cooked meals fall into this category. They keep for a few days in the fridge or should be frozen, and can spoil in harmful but not detectable ways. I say "meals" because there are exceptions such as plenty of baked goods, and obviously some home cooking is based on preserving techniques, such as making jam.

It's not really about the ingredients - tinned fish, for example, will keep for years after the best before date, but fresh fish will go off in a few days. Or consider dried fruit vs. fresh fruit. It's about the whole process.

  • Right. Well, I'm kind of curious in general, but how about a home-cooked vegetarian stir-fry? With tofu and vegetables and noodles.
    – RothX
    Apr 30, 2019 at 0:28

In general, if it smells and taste "off", DO NOT EAT IT.

  • Botulism, one of the biggest of all concerns in contaminated food, has no visible signs, no smell, and no taste. It is sometimes, often even associated with such things, swollen cans, off gassing, bad taste, but it is not the actual source of any of those and can be present without any of those signs. The statement, do not eat if you see any of those things is valid, but tends to be interpreted in the mirror, that if it does not taste/smell/look off it is OK which is a dangerous assumption.
    – dlb
    Apr 30, 2019 at 13:46

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