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Oct 20, 2011 02:55 PM

Expired ketchup

I was about to open a new bottle of ketchup when I noticed the expiration date was Aug. 11, 2011. Is it ok to use? Thanks.

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  1. I'd use it. It's sealed (and that may be a sell by date, note a food expiration date).

    1 Reply
    1. re: nofunlatte

      Wow that was fast! Thanks so much!!!

    2. Serious question -- has anyone ever heard of ketchup going bad? Ever seen mold on it? Odd smells?

      I've thrown away many bottles that contained dried-out ketchup encrusted on the inside of the bottle...but I don't think I've ever seen it go bad...

      6 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Catsup doesn't usually mold because it has vinegar in it, unlike tomato sauce which will mold.

        Catsup will ferment if left unrefrigerated and, I've read that the bottle could explode when opened creating a catsup volcano, so to speak.

        It is one reason I rarely eat bottled catsup in restaurants. Some have a policy of perpetually refilling the bottle on the table.

        Here's a lengthy study on catsup spoilage

        I got bored before reading it all ... but they did get mold, especially arount then neck of the bottle near the cap .. and there was stuff about other organisms they found.

        1. re: rworange

          FWIW, that study dates from 1909, over a century ago. It appears it was related mostly to the safety of ketchup as a function of how it was manufactured at that time. While the natural processes of spoilage haven't changed, I suppose, manufacturing and packaging, particularly as regards food safety, surely has, so I'm not sure what it all might mean.

          In general, I believe opened ketchup can be left at room temperature for a good long while before any serious food safety issues arise. I wouldn't hesitate to eat it in a restaurant that leaves it out. At least not for food safety reasons.

          1. re: johnb

            I worked in a restaurant in the 1980s, and part of my job was to refill the ketchup bottles at the end of the night. The policy was to refill the partly empty bottles with ketchup from other partly empty bottles, but first always check to see if there were any bubbles in the ketchup, indicating fermentation. If there were bubbles, we were to throw that bottle away. I was always vigilant about this job, but I can't speak for the other workers. So while I will use ketchup that's left on the table, I will also give it a quick look to make sure there are no bubbles.

            1. re: lisavf

              I didn't realize it could ferment, what with the preservatives and the acidity and so much sugar to preserve it, in addition to whatever preservatives they put in it. Thanks for letting us know that it can actually ferment. but then I wonder, is it a good or bad ferment? Is there any way to tell? It may taste like hell, which would be a dealbreaker, of course, but with fermented foods being in the public eye I wonder, like I have always wondered about old fresh home-squeezed orange juice- that ferments too. Good or bad?

              1. re: euromongrel

                have you ever taken a swig of over-the-hill orange juice? You won't care if it's good for you -- it's nasty.

        2. re: sunshine842

          Yes, It gets a vinegary taste. You will know if its bad.

        3. I'm generally pretty cautious about food expiration dates, but I have no problem with using ketchup that's past its "sell by" or "best by" date. Sometimes the color turns a bit brown, but it tastes fine.

          1. I grew up in a time where there were no sell by's and use by's. You used your nose and taste buds. It still applies to me, the sniff and taste test. I've had meat and milk go bad before the sell by - they generally mean very little to me.

            1. Not a ketchup eater, but I generally go by the smell and taste test as well...if it looks fine, smells fine, and tastes fine, I'd eat it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jw615

                I once found a bottle that I determined was over 20 years old-in the basement of an old house I lived in.

                The contents had darkened but still smelled like ketchup-but since I don't eat the stuff the contents were disposed of down the drain and the bottle recycled.