• <h4 class="dechead">On One Hand: It Can Last For Decades

    Dry food should last long after the date written on the package. As long as it is kept sealed and at room temperature, dry food can last up to 30 years, according to studies at Brigham Young University. Wheat and rice last the longest, while powdered milk expires within 20 years.

    On the Other: Mishandling and Freshness Issues

    If the food has a "use by" date on the carton, it could be dangerous to eat it after that date. If food is mishandled, it may develop food-borne bacteria or other problems, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Additionally, even safe food loses freshness and taste after its expiration date.

    Bottom Line

    Studies have shown that most dry foods are safe and nutritional for up to 30 years after their production. But that doesn't mean that the food will taste nearly as good as time goes by. Use discretion when choosing whether to keep something for this long, and be sure to keep it at a reasonable temperature and humidity.


    USDA: Food Labeling

    Provident Living: New Findings for Longer-Term Food Storage

    BYU: Nutritional Adequacy and Shelf Life of Food Storage

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