Do Clif Bars Expire or Go Bad?

by Charlie
Clif Bars

Almost 30 years ago a new snack bar company was founded and its treats became popular in no time. CLIF Bar was created. In its first year, marketed as a delicious energy bar, sales mounted to over $700,000. 

First popular among bikers and hikers on the west coast, it wasn’t long before the rest of the country discovered its fantastic flavor and supportive health properties – essential vitamins and minerals. In 1999, Clif Bar created its LUNA bar, for women, as it contains nutrients particular to women’s health.

Both the Clif and Luna bars are individually packaged and sealed as to last a long time even though they’re made up of mostly organic ingredients. 

Do Clif bars expire? Yes, Clif bars do expire or go bad. In terms of health consequences if you eat an “expired” Clif Bar, no, you won’t suffer any serious illness. But if it’s so far past the expiration date that it’s gone rancid, it will smell so bad, that you won’t eat it anyway. The fresher they are, though, the better they taste. 

Because there are some ingredients in the bars that have lower shelf lives than the rest, it’s important to store the bars in cool/room temperature places that are fairly dry. 

How Long Do Clif Bars Last?

The shelf life, when kept at a consistent temperature, is normally up to two years. The “best by” or expiration date on the packaging is helpful for knowing when a bar will start tasting a little stale, but they can still be safely eaten as long as they are not rancid – spoiled oil or fat. 

They are able to last two whole years because they’re made up of primarily oatmeal which has an exceedingly long shelf life. It’s only the oils, syrups, chocolate – faster perishing and moist ingredients that prevent them from lasting even longer. 

TIP:  “Best by” dates are different than “expiration” dates. The manufacturer provides “best by” stamps to tell a consumer the date before which the bar will be it’s freshest and tastiest. It doesn’t mean that it is dangerous to eat after that point.  

What Can Make Clif Bars “Go Bad”?

Clif Bar varieties and flavors contain ingredients with pH levels that do not require refrigeration, so off-the-bat, it’s clear that they won’t go bad for a pretty long time. They are definitely not like a cupcake or fresh vegetable.

To prevent them from going bad (rancid), keep them in a dry, cool or room temperature location–indoor pantry, cafe drawer or other controlled storage spot is ideal. If you plan to keep them in your car, it’s best to store them in a waterproof and temperature proof lined container. 

Avoid the following, as these things can make the bars go bad sooner than they should:

  • Ripping or puncturing the bar wrapper: This will break the air seal and possible let in tiny bugs that will ruin your energy treat. Before putting away the bars, check them to be sure there’s not already any rips or holes in the wrapper. Throw those away or return for a refund.
  • Store somewhere with wide temperature swings: Every time the bar is heated from sun exposure, then cooled out of the sun, then heated again, and moved to a air conditioned location, spoilage will occur. So, you may have a Clif or Luna bar that goes bad in a just a week because it wasn’t stored properly.
  • Don’t Re-freeze: Sure, it’s okay to freeze the bars if you want to, but if you freeze, thaw, freeze again, then thaw again, spoilage occurs. Plus, the drastic change in moisture so many times will cause the ingredients to lose much of their flavor and good texture.

Clif bars are for people who want a tasty treat that gives them energy and a load of nutrients, so by doing any of the things listed above, you’re defeating the purpose of eating them in the first place. 

How to Tell If Clif Bars Have Spoiled

If you’re not sure whether a bar is safe to eat (has not spoiled or gone rancid),there a few ways to figure it out. But first, don’t eat one that has holes, tears or other openings in the wrapper. Those may have been spoiled by bugs, dust, or other unsafe airborne elements like household aerosols sprays. 

Quick ways to know if your Clif bar is spoiled:

  1. Look at it. Examine the entire bar to be sure there are no soft spots (mushy), rotted out spots, mold (gray, green or blue fuzz), or black spots. 
  2. Smell it. Take a whiff and see if it smells like it should. If it’s chocolate and almond, it should smell like that. If it’s a fruit bar, there should be some scent of the kind of fruit that’s in it. If it has a no smell, it’s probably just old, but if it smells bad, it’s spoiled.
  3. Touch it. If it’s hard as a rock, and you can’t even chip off something “chipable” like a chocolate chip or flake of oatmeal, it may be spoiled, but more likely it’s just stale. If it’s mushier than it should be, it’s probably spoiled.             
  4. Take a SMALL taste of it. If you’re still not sure, just bite of a tiny piece from a corner and taste it. Before you swallow it be sure it tastes good. If it doesn’t taste right, spit it out and buy a new Clif Bar.

What Happens If You Eat a Spoiled Clif Bar?

Most likely – nothing at all. But it wouldn’t be uncommon to get a stomach ache for a while, and if it’s so spoiled, like the fruit portion has gone completely rancid, you could get food poisoning. Again, even the poisoning won’t kill you (in most cases), but it will make you have a really hard night.

If you feel that you’ve eaten a spoiled bar, it’s a good idea to immediately drink a lot of water, at least two or three full glasses. This will help flush it through your system fast and dilute any of the bacteria that could give your body trouble. 

Final Thoughts

Clif Bars are among the tastiest energy and nutritional bars on the market, and with their long shelf life of two years makes it almost impossible to waste money on them.

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