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Ate expired cottage cheese, will I get sick, what to do?

Anything I can do to prevent sickness? Is it likely I'll get sick? My stomach's been rumbling since I ate one-week-past-use-by-date cottage cheese an hour or two ago. It hadn't been opened yet, if that makes any difference. It tasted sour but I wasn't paying much attention so I ate more than I'd have liked before I finally caught on. I've had some bad seafood poisoning before and I'm now freaking out imagining the same type of thing kicking in any minute/hour now. I have a weak immune system so that makes me even more worried.

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  1. A week is not significant. "Use by" dates are merely a device to help ensure product quality, and the date is somewhat arbitrary. If it it disagreeable, dump it, but I doubt much will come of having eaten some of it. I'm assuming it has been kept refrigerated.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GH1618

      Yes it was in the fridge and was sealed till I opened it just before eating. My stomach has definitely been gurgling and rumbling since I ate it, but hopefully that will be the extent of it. Thank you.

    2. Cottage cheese is sour by nature.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sr44

        Thanks. It was much more sour than normal though. I found myself putting salt on it to try to counter the sourness, which is when I decided to check the date on it.

      2. It was pasturized, processed and sealed. It is unlikely there are any beasties present. The fact that it has gone sour in itself won't make you ill. It may make you sick to your stomach, but that isn't an immunity issue in and of itself.

        Not to give medical advice, but if you start to get sick, contact your doctor or one of those nurses on line places and see what they say. Stay hydrated.

        7 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          By sick to your stomach do you mean vomiting? I'm having seafood poisoning flashbacks.

          1. re: bythebay

            but the seafood poisoning was your stomach getting rid of a toxin. this is just your stomach dealing with something it doesn't like. you may just get the kind of indigestion you are experiencing now, or you may throw up. Sometimes throwing up is easier, then its out of your system. Or it may just settle down in an hour as your body counter acts the sourness.

            if you have continuing problems from either end of your digestive system over a period of time call the doctor.

            1. re: KaimukiMan

              Thanks. So food poisoning from seafood is different than what you can get from spoiled dairy products, in that the dairy products don't involve a toxin? If that's the case, that's good news. And you're right about throwing up. I was sick much longer and worse with seafood poisoning when I didn't throw up than when I did.

              1. re: bythebay

                There are a whole bunch of things that can cause food poisoning. When the stomach gets something it doesn't like and you barf it back up immediately (or pass it through really quickly) that can actually be one of the easiest to deal with, because it gets it out of your system quickly.

                Some of the nastiest bugs can be the ones that take a few days or a week to colonize your system before you react. I had food poisoning from (probably) raw shellfish once, and it took 48 hours to kick in and knocked me out for about three days, with another few days for my system to get back to normal - basically, it felt like a nasty stomach virus crossed with a flu, including the fever and full body aches.

                My husband gets horrible gas from old dairy, even if it's not spoiled, where I can eat it with no problem, so it varies from person to person.

                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                  Yeah shellfish poisoning is awful. It happened to me that way once too where it took a while to kick in. I was really really sick, high fever and other symptoms too like you had also. The cottage cheese seemed to have upset my stomach but it's better now, so I'm hoping that was the extent of it.

                2. re: bythebay

                  there can be 'germs' in dairy as well, but since you were eating a pasteurized sealed product, it is highly unlikely, even though it was past the sell by date (and note, it's probably a sell by date, not an eat by date.) Had you been talking about a carton of cottage cheese that you opened a week ago and then finished it off tonight we would be having a different conversation altogether. tastesgoodwhatisit makes some very good points.

                  Mostly this isn't about seafood poisoning vs. dairy, this is about spoiled food verses contaminated food. two very different subjects. Both can make you sick, and in many cases the two are co-joined, but in this case even if the cottage cheese had spoiled it is unlikely to be contaminated.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    It was listed as a use by date. Thanks, it helped tremendously knowing there was some difference in the two. I think my shellfish poisoning experiences scarred me for life!

          2. honestly there is no reason to think that this would have been spoiled, at all. It might get a little bit tart-er (more sour) through long storage, but a spoiled flavor is different - you would not have been able to scarf a lot of it down.

            Like others have said, the use-by dates are for optimal flavor and quality; its not a safety issue to go past them.

            Anxiety can cause a lot of stomach problems - its easy to feel sick and even get sick if you think you have eaten something bad - your rumbling may have had nothing to do with the quality of the cottage cheese at all.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jen kalb

              I think the rumbling is definitely physical not caused by anxiety, I can't imagine my brain could cause what my stomach is doing right now! But your explanation makes me feel a lot better mentally, thank you! Good to know that if it was spoiled it would have tasted terrible. Thank you! I'm eating dinner now and the worry is gone, or mostly gone anyway.

            2. A.) this is a food lovers web site not a medical one so with all due respect to those who have responded you should NOT rely on this site for medical advice!!

              B.) as most if not all the responders have said 1 week does not indicate spoiled food especially when dealing with something processed. You are/will be fine.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jrvedivici

                B is really what I was looking for, info on food spoilage, etc. I know that if things get bad, I need to look to medical providers for medical advice. Thank you! And you're right I'm doing fine. Stomach grumbling a bit still and that's it.

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  C.) there are a number of things that can cause gastric distress, including but not limited to tainted food. I did some research into noroviruses after a conference I attended was hit with an outbreak: the symptoms are what people usually cite when they think they have food poisoning. It's common, the virus can persist for days on surfaces, and people who get it often shrug it off as "must be something I ate".

                  I'm not a medical professional either. The whole notion of sell-by and expiration dates is rather new (and IMHO a CYA move by food processors): before then we were taught to look for signs of spoilage, including off-odors, or swelling in sealed containers indicating fermentation was taking place, or off tastes. If the carton wasn't bulging and the contents smelled normal, I'd say it would be ok.

                2. If you have any doubt about any food -- it tastes funny, it looks funny, it smells funny (where funny = not what you're used to) -- just throw it out. It's just not worth it!

                  Doubly if you have immune system issues to begin with.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    That's pretty much the rule in my home.

                    The risk isn't worth the 'I hate throwing things out and I left my beef stroganoff made with sour cream on the counter for 2 days should I eat it anyway even though it smells kind of funky & looks a little green' syndrome.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Absolutely. Unfortunately the doubt arose after I'd already eaten some of it. I never knowingly take chances with this type of thing.

                    2. You may be lactose intolerant, nothing with the date.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: treb

                        I eat cottage cheese every day with no trouble.

                      2. I'm pretty paranoid about food spoilage, but I've eaten unopened, past its expiration date cottage cheese many times without ill effect. I have however also opened a couple such containers to find pink mold spots on the surface. Those went right in the trash.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cookie monster

                          absolutely -- pink or orange indicates a particularly nasty strain of mold that leaves virulent toxins behind -- you can't even scrape or scoop pink or orange molds away and be sure that you won't get sick.

                        2. Usually those dates on a package are "sell by" rather than "use by" dates. Often a package will say "best if used by . . ." but that is referring to deteriorating flavor, not turning to poison. I simply can't imagine a properly stored container having gone toxic in one week past the use or sell date unless it had some other problem, like bad storage somewhere in transit or a broken seal. Yes, your nerves can make your stomach very uneasy. Just hearing someone else throw up causes many people to throw up themselves. I'd get rid of the rest of the cheese because you didn't like it but give up worrying unless you get symptoms considerably worse. As you feel well enough to eat dinner, I'm pretty sure nothing bad was eaten.

                          1. My wife just handed me a fork full of 2% cottage cheese and asked me if it tasted okay. It seemed good so I asked her what the expiry date was. Answer: April 19 2013, exactly 18 months past it's due date. I mean, WTF it's been pasteurized, inoculated with bacteria, sealed and refrigerated. If I were a retailer, I'd sell it as "extra-old" cottage cheese ;-)