Can you eat impossible meat after expiration date?

Impossible meat is a popular plant-based meat alternative made by Impossible Foods. It mimics the taste, texture, and cooking properties of real ground beef. Like all food products, Impossible meat comes with a printed expiration date on the package. But what happens if you eat Impossible meat after the printed expiration date has passed? Is it still safe to eat?

What does the expiration date mean?

The expiration date printed on Impossible meat packages indicates the last day the manufacturer recommends consuming or freezing the product for maximum freshness and quality. It does not necessarily mean the product is unsafe to eat after that date.

Food expiration dates are provided voluntarily by manufacturers based on their own shelf life studies. There are no federal regulations requiring expiration dates on most food products, except for baby formula. So the Impossible meat expiration date is more of a guideline than a hard rule.

How to tell if Impossible meat is spoiled

The best way to know if Impossible meat has spoiled and become unsafe to eat is to inspect it before consuming:

  • Check the color – Impossible meat should be reddish-brown, similar to raw ground beef. Discoloration like gray, green, or yellow hues may indicate spoilage.
  • Smell it – Rancid or unpleasant odors mean it’s spoiled.
  • Feel the texture – Impossible meat should be moist but not slimy. A sticky or slippery texture is a red flag for spoilage.
  • Watch for mold – This fuzzy or slimy growth means the meat has spoiled.

If your Impossible meat shows any signs of spoilage like unpleasant smells, colors, textures or mold – it’s best to throw it out regardless of the printed expiration date.

How long does Impossible meat last past the expiration date?

If properly stored, unopened packs of Impossible meat will typically stay fresh for:

  • 1 week past the printed expiration date if refrigerated at 40°F or below.
  • 2-3 months past the printed date if continuously frozen at 0°F or below.

Once opened, Impossible meat should be consumed within 3-5 days and kept refrigerated. The expiration date refers to unopened product only.

Does cooking make expired Impossible meat safe to eat?

Cooking expired Impossible meat does not necessarily make it safe for consumption. Any bacteria that developed while the meat was spoiled will not be killed off from cooking temperatures.

While cooking does kill common foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, it does not destroy the toxins that bacteria produce as the meat spoils. These toxins can still cause food poisoning even after thorough cooking.

Can you freeze Impossible meat past the expiration date?

Freezing is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of Impossible meat beyond the printed expiration date. As long as the meat has been continuously frozen and shows no signs of freezer burn or spoilage, frozen Impossible meat should last for 2-3 months past the printed date when stored at 0°F.

Make sure to freeze it before the expiration date for maximum freshness. And once thawed, use within 3-5 days and do not refreeze.

Tips for storing Impossible meat

To help your Impossible meat last as long as possible, follow these storage tips:

  • Refrigerate unopened packages at 40°F or below.
  • Freeze unopened packages if you don’t plan to use within 3-5 days.
  • Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or air-tight containers.
  • Use opened packs within 3-5 days.
  • Cook raw Impossible meat within 2 days for maximum freshness.
  • Do not refreeze thawed Impossible meat.

The bottom line

The expiration date on Impossible meat is an estimate, not a hard rule. Unopened, properly stored packs should last 1 week past the printed date when refrigerated, or 2-3 months when frozen continuously at 0°F.

Once opened, use Impossible meat within 3-5 days and discard if it shows any signs of spoilage like unpleasant odors, colors, sliminess or mold. Do not eat expired Impossible meat without inspecting it first, even if thoroughly cooked. When in doubt, throw it out.

With proper refrigerated storage, it is generally safe to eat unopened Impossible meat for a short period past the expiration date printed on the package. But always rely on your senses to determine if it has spoiled before consuming.

Storage Method Shelf Life Past Printed Expiration Date
Refrigerated at 40°F or below (unopened) 1 week
Frozen continuously at 0°F or below (unopened) 2-3 months
Refrigerated after opening 3-5 days

Frequently asked questions

Is it dangerous to eat expired Impossible meat?

Eating expired Impossible meat can be dangerous if harmful bacteria have developed during spoilage. Always inspect meat before eating and discard if you detect odors, colors, textures or mold indicating it has spoiled.

What happens if you eat bad Impossible meat?

Consuming Impossible meat that has spoiled can cause foodborne illness with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headaches, and body aches. In severe cases, bad meat can cause life-threatening complications.

Can Impossible meat make you sick after the expiration date?

Impossible meat can make you sick if pathogens have grown or toxins have developed as the meat spoiled after the expiration date. Properly refrigerated, unopened packs should be safe for a short period past the printed date. But spoiled meat should always be discarded, even if the date hasn’t passed.

Is it better to freeze or refrigerate Impossible meat?

For maximum freshness and shelf life, it’s best to freeze unopened packs of Impossible meat if you don’t plan to use within 3-5 days. Frozen meat lasts 2-3 months past the printed date versus just 1 week refrigerated.

How do you know when Impossible meat has gone bad?

Signs that Impossible meat has spoiled include unpleasant odors, graying or unnatural colors, slimy or sticky texture, or mold growth. Rancid or sour smells, in particular, indicate the meat is rotten and should be discarded.

Can you cook and eat expired Impossible meat?

It’s unsafe to eat expired Impossible meat, even if thoroughly cooked. Cooking kills bacteria but not the toxins they produce as the meat spoils. If the meat smells bad or shows signs of spoilage, it’s best to throw it out.

The safety risks of eating expired Impossible meat

Eating spoiled Impossible meat comes with significant health risks you should take seriously. Here are some of the dangers:

  • Food poisoning – Consuming rancid Impossible meat can cause foodborne illness leading to nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Symptoms may last a few hours up to several days.
  • Toxins – Bacteria like E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella release toxins that cause illness. Cooking cannot destroy these toxins once formed.
  • Severe infection – In rare cases, food poisoning from toxic meat can lead to life-endangering complications like organ failure, paralysis, meningitis or sepsis.
  • Sensitive groups – Young children, elderly, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems are most at risk for severe effects of foodborne toxins.
  • Long-term complications – Some foodborne pathogens can cause lingering effects like kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage.

Rotten Impossible meat may look and smell normal at first. But bacteria grow rapidly as meat spoils. Consuming expired plant-based meat is simply not worth the risks of serious food poisoning and infection.

How to identify spoiled Impossible meat

Watch for these common signs that suggest Impossible meat is no longer fresh and safe to eat:

  • Unpleasant odors – Rancid, sour or ammonia-like smells indicate spoilage.
  • Change in color – Graying, green or yellow discoloration instead of reddish-brown.
  • Slimy texture – Meat feels sticky, tacky, or slippery.
  • Mold growth – Presence of fuzzy or slimy mold on the meat surface.

Trust your senses when inspecting Impossible meat. If it smells bad or just seems “off” – do not eat it. Remember, the expiration date is only a guideline and meat can spoil before the printed date too.

How to store Impossible meat for maximum freshness

Proper storage is key to keeping Impossible meat safe and high quality beyond the expiration date. Follow these tips:

  • Refrigerate unopened packs at 40°F or below.
  • Freeze for long-term storage if not using soon.
  • Thaw frozen meat safely in the fridge, not at room temperature.
  • Re-wrap opened packages tightly before refrigerating.
  • Use opened refrigerated meat within 3-5 days.
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations. Refrigerate promptly after use.
  • Cook refrigerated meat within 1-2 days for best quality.

A cold, stable temperature in the refrigerator or freezer protects Impossible meat safety and maintains freshness longer.

Discarding spoiled Impossible meat safely

If your Impossible meat shows signs of spoilage, it’s important to discard it properly to prevent foodborne illness:

  • Place spoiled meat in a sealed bag before throwing in the garbage to contain pathogens.
  • Be sure to wash your hands, utensils, dishes, and work surfaces after handling rotten meat.
  • Use a sanitizing solution made with 1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water.
  • Discard any other meat opened at the same time as the spoiled product.
  • Mark your calendar and check freshness dates to prevent future spoilage.

Following safe food handling practices protects you and your family from bacteria that can persist on surfaces and supplies even after spoiled meat is thrown away.

Alternatives to eating expired Impossible meat

If you find an expired package of Impossible meat in your fridge, all is not lost. Here are some options besides taking the risky move of eating it:

  • Freeze – Unopened, expired meat can be safely frozen for 2-3 more months if not visibly spoiled.
  • Return unopened – Some stores allow returns or exchanges on unopened expired products.
  • Compost – Use spoiled plant-based meat as compost for gardens since it’s not a raw animal product.
  • Donate unopened – Local food banks may accept unopened packages past the sell-by date.
  • Repurpose – Use expired Impossible meat in recipes like chili or casseroles where appearance doesn’t matter.

With some creativity, expired Impossible meat doesn’t have to become food waste. But if signs of spoilage appear, it’s safest to discard it entirely.

The bottom line

It’s generally not recommended to eat Impossible meat past the printed expiration date. However, an unopened package stored properly in the refrigerator should stay fresh for about a week past this date before spoiling.

The expiration date is not always exact, so it’s critical to rely on your senses too. Visually inspect meat and discard if there are any signs of spoilage like foul odors, slimy texture, or off-colors. Do not taste expired Impossible meat.

Consuming spoiled Impossible meat can have serious consequences like food poisoning. But with careful storage and handling, it may be possible to safely enjoy plant-based meat slightly past its prime. When faced with an expired package, err on the side of caution. “If in doubt, throw it out.”

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