Can you eat brie past use by date?

Brie is one of the most popular soft cheeses. With its creamy texture and subtle flavor, it’s a favorite for cheese boards and cheese pairings. However, like most dairy products, brie does not last forever. After a certain date, manufacturers recommend throwing brie out. But how strictly should the use by date be followed when it comes to brie and other soft cheeses?

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What is the use by date?

The use by date, also known as the expiration date, on brie and other perishable foods is the manufacturer’s recommendation for how long the product will retain peak quality and freshness. Brie is a fresh cheese, meaning it has not been aged. It retains more moisture than aged cheeses, making it more prone to early spoilage. The use by date aims to prevent consumers from eating brie that may have deteriorated in texture and flavor.

However, the use by date is not necessarily an indicator of when the cheese becomes unsafe to eat. Rather, it indicates when the quality may start to lessen. So while brie is unlikely to be at peak freshness and flavor after the printed date, it may still be edible for some time after.

How to tell if brie is bad

Since the use by date is not definitive, the best way to determine if brie has spoiled is through sight, smell and taste. Here are signs that brie cheese should be discarded:


– Mold growth. White mold around the edges is normal for brie because of the rind. But colored mold spots indicate spoilage.

– Drying or cracks in the rind. As brie ages, some drying is normal. But if the rind is very dried out, shriveled or cracked, it’s a sign the cheese is over the hill.

– Watery or sticky texture. Fresh brie should be creamy and spreadable. If it becomes watery, separates or turns slimy, it has spoiled.

– Ammonia smell. Brie gives off ammonia gas as it spoils. A strong ammonia or chemically smell means the cheese has gone bad.

– Dark or discolored paste. The cheese should be white or pale yellow. Grayish, brown or spotty coloration is a bad sign.


– Sour flavor. The flavor of unspoiled brie is mild, sweet and nutty. Sourness indicates spoilage.

– Bitter flavor. A bitter or unpleasant chemical taste means the cheese should not be eaten.

– Slime texture. Rotten brie may feel slimy or mushy rather than smooth and creamy.

How long past the expiration date can you eat brie?

If properly stored, most brie should be consumable for:

– 1 week past the printed use by date, if unopened
– 5 days past the date, if opened

However, how far you can safely go beyond the use by depends on several factors:

Storage conditions

Proper refrigeration is key to maximizing brie’s shelf life. Keep brie stored:

– In original packaging until opened
– In the fridge at 40°F or below
– In the coldest part of the refrigerator
– Away from produce and meats which can hasten spoilage

With optimal fridge conditions, unopened brie can last 2 weeks or more past the date. If stored in warmer temperatures or without packaging, it may spoil faster.


Some brie is treated with preservatives like potassium sorbate and natamycin to inhibit mold growth. Preservative-treated brie tends to last longer than untreated varieties. Check the label to see if the cheese contains mold inhibitors or “natural preservatives.”


Brie with an edible rind will have a shorter shelf life than versions with wax or cloth rind. The breathable edible rinds provide less physical protection against molds.

Type of milk

The animal source of milk impacts shelf life. Cow’s milk brie lasts longer than goat’s or sheep’s milk varieties. The higher fat content of cow’s milk makes it less prone to spoilage.

How to store brie properly

To help brie last as long as possible:

– Keep brie refrigerated at all times until serving

– Ensure fridge temperature is set to 40°F or below

– Place brie in the coldest part of the fridge, away from the door

– Leave brie in original packaging until you are ready to eat it

– After opening, rewrap cheese tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper

– Limit air exposure by keeping the cut surface face down

– Use within 5 days of opening for best quality

– Avoid freezing brie as freezing damages the texture

Can you safely eat spoiled brie?

While it may not make you sick in every case, it is generally not recommended to knowingly eat brie after it has spoiled.

Some of the potential risks of eating rotten brie include:

Foodborne illness

Like many dairy products, brie can harbor dangerous bacteria when spoiled. Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus are hazards associated with eating bad brie. Listeria is most likely, as it can grow even in the fridge. Symptoms of foodborne illness may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and cramps.

Toxic mold

Penicillium roqueforti and other molds that grow on brie produce toxic byproducts in some instances. Consuming these mycotoxins could cause illness. Pregnant women are at particular risk.

Unpleasant symptoms

Even if spoiled brie does not contain dangerous pathogens, ingesting large amounts can have unpleasant digestive side effects like nausea, gas, and stomach pain.

The risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to knowingly eating expired brie. However, if you accidentally consume a small amount of brie a few days past its prime, serious illness is unlikely. Remember to always inspect the cheese before eating and discard brie at the first signs of spoilage.

How to use up brie that’s nearing expiration

If your brie is close to expiration but still smells and looks fine, enjoy it soon via these creative ways to use up the cheese:

– Make baked brie en croute – puff pastry prevents drying

– Stuff in omelets, frittatas or scrambled eggs

– Mix into pasta, risottos or gnocchi

– Spread on crackers for an instant appetizer

– Add to quiche fillings or tarts

– Grill in sandwiches or paninis

– Mash into compound butter

– Blend into dips, spreads or cheese balls


Can I freeze brie to extend its shelf life?

Freezing is not recommended for brie. The freezing process causes damage to the texture, turning soft brie gritty and crumbly.

Can I eat brie if there is mold on the rind?

White mold on the rind of brie is safe to eat. Carefully cut off at least 1 inch around any colored mold spots. But if the cheese itself under the rind shows mold, play it safe and discard the brie.

Is expired brie safe for pregnant women?

Pregnant women are advised to avoid soft cheeses like brie that could potentially harbor listeria. Throw out brie by the use by date and avoid consuming it if you are pregnant.

What happens if you eat expired brie?

Mild effects like stomach upset may occur after eating over the hill brie. In worst cases, severe foodborne illness is possible if the cheese became highly contaminated. Healthy adults are unlikely to become seriously ill from small amounts of expired brie. But take care to inspect and properly store brie.

How long can unopened brie last past the printed date?

Properly refrigerated, unopened brie should be consumable for 1-2 weeks beyond the use by date before noticeable decline in quality. Brie may last even longer if the fridge temperature is ideal and no temperature fluctuations occur.

Can you get food poisoning from expired brie?

Yes, brie can potentially cause food poisoning if it is contaminated with pathogens and consumed after excessive aging. Proper storage greatly reduces the risk. But when in doubt, remember the old adage “when in doubt, throw it out.”

The bottom line

The use by date on brie and soft cheeses is not an absolute expiration date. Well-stored brie is often still consumable for 1-2 weeks after the printed date. However, aged, moldy or improperly refrigerated brie should always be discarded once it is beyond the date on the package. Look and smell for signs of spoilage before eating aged brie. While accidentally consuming a small amount of expired brie is unlikely to cause illness in healthy adults, knowingly eating spoiled brie comes with risks and is not recommended. Following proper storage methods, using brie within the use by timeframe, and relying on your senses are the best ways to enjoy brie safely.

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