Do Rice Krispies Expire or Go Bad?

by Charlie
Rice Krispies Treats

Expiration dates mean that stores can’t sell an item past that date. But sometimes, expiration dates aren’t really expiration dates at all. Rather, they are “best by” dates, meaning that the item in question is only guaranteed to be top quality until that time. And, unfortunately, these dates are not used with any sort of standardization across brands.

That said, Kellogg’s, who makes Rice Krispies, uses a “MMDDY” format, meaning the first two digits are the month, the second two are the day, and the last is the year. But that’s not always the most intuitive.

Do Rice Krispies expire? Most experts will agree that dry cereals do not expire in a way that poses a food safety risk. However, there are other external factors that should be considered when eating Rice Krispies past their “expiration date.”

Spoiled Rice Krispies

Within reason, plain Rice Krispies will not spoil all on their own without external factors affecting them. They may go stale and be unpleasant to eat. When in doubt, eat some dry Krispies before pouring yourself an entire bowl. Here are some signs of spoiling that should result in you throwing out the box, however.

Bugs

Anyone who has ever had moths in their pantry knows that they can very quickly become the bane of your existence and ruin perfectly good and sometimes even brand new food. Mealworms, weevils, and other insects can also get into your cereal boxes and eat your food before you do.

Always check the packaging for evidence of insects before consuming. You do not want to bring a spoonful of Rice Krispies to your mouth and find that your food is moving.

Infested packages should be thrown out without further question. It is best to throw everything away in the outside trash or take your kitchen trash out immediately so you don’t continue to have bugs in your kitchen.

Mold

While this is usually more of a problem for already opened packages, sometimes moisture can even get into the sealed bags that Rice Krispies come in. If you find any mold in your Rice Krispies, throw the package out immediately.

And while you don’t necessarily have to throw the trash out outside this time, like you would with bugs, you might want to do so anyway just so you don’t have to look at it in your kitchen trash anymore.

Smelly

Sometimes cereal just starts smelling weird. This is more common with cereals that have fruit added, or cereals that are whole grain. But even Rice Krispies can sometimes just start smelling funky.

If they do start smelling, throw them out and don’t think about it again. Your nose is telling you that something is wrong and you should trust it.

Salmonella

This one surprises a lot of people, but unfortunately, salmonella doesn’t just affect raw meat and vegetables. Salmonella can survive in dry, heavily processed foods just as well as it can thrive in raw meats and produce.

If your Rice Krispies smell like grass or paint, or if they look like they’re very oily, you should toss them because they might have been affected by Salmonella.

How Long Will Rice Krispies Really Last?

Most cereals will last months or years past their expiration or best by dates unlike the milk that they are so commonly paired with. However, cereals will certainly lose their freshness after that date and Rice Krispies are no exception.

An unopened bag will usually retain its quality for up to twelve months past the date on the package. Once it’s opened, expect no more than six months after opening before that staleness sets in. The best by date should be used as a guideline rather than a hard rule.

Stale Rice Krispies

Stale Rice Krispies usually will lose their flavor and might be a little less crisp when you are eating them. Again, if you eat a couple of dry kernels and find the taste and texture acceptable, you are free to eat them so long as there are no other signs of spoilage.

But if the bland taste and funky texture bother you, it’s best to just throw out the box and buy a new one.

How to Best Store Rice Krispies for Longevity

Any cereal should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Once you’ve opened your Rice Krispies, store them in a sealed container, or use a clip to keep the bag closed. It is also best to push all of the excess air out of the bag before you clip it shut to help prevent staleness.

You should keep them in your pantry and then keep your pantry closed to minimize light and heat and exposure to moisture. If you live in a particularly humid environment, you should absolutely invest in sealed plastic cereal containers.

Prepared Rice Krispies

If you have turned your Rice Krispies into Rice Krispy Treats, or you have a bowl of them that you haven’t quite finished, there are a few options for you to store them. An unfinished bowl of cereal will keep in the fridge for a few days if it is in an airtight container without spoiling.

However, your Rice Krispies will lose all crisp and turn into a slurry. It is thus not recommended that you do this. But they won’t kill you if you eat them.

If you make Rice Krispy Treats, they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or two. Do not refrigerate or freeze them as this will make them soggy.

Final Thoughts

Essentially, Rice Krispies will not expire on their own without external factors such as insects, excess moisture, or bacteria interfering. Storing Rice Krispies the correct way will minimize the risks of them going bad.

In most cases, you will only have to contend with stale Rice Krispies once you are past the date on the packaging. At that point, you can decide if they are still edible or not.

Expiration dates mean that stores can’t sell an item past that date. But sometimes, expiration dates aren’t really expiration dates at all. Rather, they are “best by” dates, meaning that the item in question is only guaranteed to be top quality until that time. And, unfortunately, these dates are not used with any sort of standardization across brands.

That said, Kellogg’s, who makes Rice Krispies, uses a “MMDDY” format, meaning the first two digits are the month, the second two are the day, and the last is the year. But that’s not always the most intuitive.

Do Rice Krispies expire? Most experts will agree that dry cereals do not expire in a way that poses a food safety risk. However, there are other external factors that should be considered when eating Rice Krispies past their “expiration date.”

Spoiled Rice Krispies

Within reason, plain Rice Krispies will not spoil all on their own without external factors affecting them. They may go stale and be unpleasant to eat. When in doubt, eat some dry Krispies before pouring yourself an entire bowl. Here are some signs of spoiling that should result in you throwing out the box, however.

Bugs

Anyone who has ever had moths in their pantry knows that they can very quickly become the bane of your existence and ruin perfectly good and sometimes even brand new food. Mealworms, weevils, and other insects can also get into your cereal boxes and eat your food before you do.

Always check the packaging for evidence of insects before consuming. You do not want to bring a spoonful of Rice Krispies to your mouth and find that your food is moving.

Infested packages should be thrown out without further question. It is best to throw everything away in the outside trash or take your kitchen trash out immediately so you don’t continue to have bugs in your kitchen.

Mold

While this is usually more of a problem for already opened packages, sometimes moisture can even get into the sealed bags that Rice Krispies come in. If you find any mold in your Rice Krispies, throw the package out immediately.

And while you don’t necessarily have to throw the trash out outside this time, like you would with bugs, you might want to do so anyway just so you don’t have to look at it in your kitchen trash anymore.

Smelly

Sometimes cereal just starts smelling weird. This is more common with cereals that have fruit added, or cereals that are whole grain. But even Rice Krispies can sometimes just start smelling funky.

If they do start smelling, throw them out and don’t think about it again. Your nose is telling you that something is wrong and you should trust it.

Salmonella

This one surprises a lot of people, but unfortunately, salmonella doesn’t just affect raw meat and vegetables. Salmonella can survive in dry, heavily processed foods just as well as it can thrive in raw meats and produce.

If your Rice Krispies smell like grass or paint, or if they look like they’re very oily, you should toss them because they might have been affected by Salmonella.

How Long Will Rice Krispies Really Last?

Most cereals will last months or years past their expiration or best by dates unlike the milk that they are so commonly paired with. However, cereals will certainly lose their freshness after that date and Rice Krispies are no exception.

An unopened bag will usually retain its quality for up to twelve months past the date on the package. Once it’s opened, expect no more than six months after opening before that staleness sets in. The best by date should be used as a guideline rather than a hard rule.

Stale Rice Krispies

Stale Rice Krispies usually will lose their flavor and might be a little less crisp when you are eating them. Again, if you eat a couple of dry kernels and find the taste and texture acceptable, you are free to eat them so long as there are no other signs of spoilage.

But if the bland taste and funky texture bother you, it’s best to just throw out the box and buy a new one.

How to Best Store Rice Krispies for Longevity

Any cereal should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Once you’ve opened your Rice Krispies, store them in a sealed container, or use a clip to keep the bag closed. It is also best to push all of the excess air out of the bag before you clip it shut to help prevent staleness.

You should keep them in your pantry and then keep your pantry closed to minimize light and heat and exposure to moisture. If you live in a particularly humid environment, you should absolutely invest in sealed plastic cereal containers.

Prepared Rice Krispies

If you have turned your Rice Krispies into Rice Krispy Treats, or you have a bowl of them that you haven’t quite finished, there are a few options for you to store them. An unfinished bowl of cereal will keep in the fridge for a few days if it is in an airtight container without spoiling.

However, your Rice Krispies will lose all crisp and turn into a slurry. It is thus not recommended that you do this. But they won’t kill you if you eat them.

If you make Rice Krispy Treats, they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or two. Do not refrigerate or freeze them as this will make them soggy.

Final Thoughts

Essentially, Rice Krispies will not expire on their own without external factors such as insects, excess moisture, or bacteria interfering. Storing Rice Krispies the correct way will minimize the risks of them going bad.

In most cases, you will only have to contend with stale Rice Krispies once you are past the date on the packaging. At that point, you can decide if they are still edible or not.

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