Does Ice Cream Go Bad/Expire?


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Oh, ice cream. That wonderful soft and creamy dessert that pairs so well with pretty much any other dessert. It is sweet and flavorful and there are numerous options to choose from. 

Even though it is refreshing on a hot summer day, ice cream does not have to be limited to just one season. 

It can be enjoyed any time of the year.

When your ice cream has been in the freezer for a while you might be wondering if it has gone bad or expired. 

Ice cream doesn’t last forever and will eventually go bad. When ice cream goes bad it isn’t unsafe to eat however it will be crusty and not taste very good. After a couple of months the sweet frozen treat will lose quality and expire.

Ice cream can go bad. Even though it is kept in the freezer, the frozen dessert will eventually expire. It seems that when you store things in the freezer it will never go bad when in fact this just isn’t true. 

All food will go bad, even when stored in the freezer as the quality of the food will diminish over time. Freezing food just helps to keep it good for longer but it will still go bad. 

It basically slows bacteria growth but doesn’t stop it entirely, meaning that eventually that ice cream will go bad and expire.

Now back to ice cream. This dessert has to be frozen, otherwise it will melt. Melted ice cream is just not good and you want the frozen treat to be creamy and cold to get the most out of it. 

Ice cream does have an expiration date. An unopened container of ice cream is said to be  good for 2 months past its best by date. An opened tub of ice cream is only good for 1 to 2 months so it should be eaten up during this time. 

If you like ice cream, this won’t be a problem. To see the most popular ice cream flavors just click here. 

How Long Does Ice Cream Last?

If you have this question, then know that ice cream can indeed go bad. It is a good idea to place the ice cream in the back of the freezer. 

This way it won’t change in temperature whenever you open and close the freezer but will stay at a frozen state and stay good for longer. 

So, how long does ice cream last?

You should eat the ice cream in about 1 to 2 months after purchasing it. Ice cream lasts for about a month after it has been opened before it will start to crystallize. If it is unopened it last for about 2 months

To help your ice cream last longer, seal its lid tightly when placing it back into the freezer. You can even put some plastic wrap as a barrier between the ice cream and lid so it has less of a chance of freezer burn. 

Be careful not to leave ice cream out for too long. Once you are done plopping some of the sweet cold treat into a bowl, secure the lid and put it back into the freezer for safe-keeping. 

If ice cream melts and is then refrozen it can result in expansion. This is because the water in the ice cream will melt, too and when it is refrozen will form larger ice crystals causing it to expand. 

When it melts, ice cream also loses the air that makes it fluffy. This can make the ice cream hard with a rough and crunch consistency instead of soft and creamy how it should be.

You should throw away any ice cream that has melted. Do not refreeze it since this can cause bacterial growth as well. 

There are a few things to look for to see if your ice cream has gone bad. Ice on the top of the lid and over the ice cream are the first sign that ice cream is no longer good. You can just scrape them off and eat the ice cream but it won’t taste nearly as good since it will be the consistency of an icy soup. 

Foods that that contain bacteria may look, smell, or taste fine but could make you sick. If ice cream does smell, look, or taste bad then these are sure signs that it is bad and should be tossed. 

It is said that ice cream is only good for a month or so after it is opened. Try the plastic wrap tip to protect the frozen treat to get it to last a bit longer. 

Can Ice Cream Make You Sick?

So, you have a tub of ice cream that’s been sitting in the back of the freezer for what seems like years. Ok, maybe not years but definitely a few months. 

You aren’t sure if it has gone bad or if the ice cream could even go bad. 

Ice cream can make you sick if it has been contaminated by bacteria. That can happen by cross-contamination or melting.

Bacteria likes to grow in foods that are full of water like eggs and milk which is found in ice cream. While freezing slows down the bacteria growth it still slowly grows and eventually will go bad. 

Once you open ice cream the air and light hit it and begin to deteriorate the dessert. When you touch the scoop with your hands, then scoop out some ice cream into a bowl, you have now put all of the bacteria that was on your hands into the tub of ice cream causing cross-contamination. 

This won’t harm you if you eat the ice cream but bacteria will begin forming and cause the ice cream to go bad. 

The article, The lesser-known causes of food poisoning that may ruin your dessert by The Conversation explains, “…ice cream really does have the potential to make you very sick…

However, ice cream can also pose a danger after purchase if it has melted and then been refrozen. This often happens when it is taken from the freezer, left out to thaw and then returned to the freezer before being taken out again to eat later…

Your best defence from a brain freeze-stomach ache combo is to avoid leaving the tub out and to put it back in the freezer once you’ve scooped out the amount you want. Double dipping with a dirty spoon is also not only inconsiderate, it’s an invitation to every nasty bug nearby.”

Final Thoughts

Ice cream can go bad and expire. This can be due to several things. Cross contamination as well as being stored for longer than it should be can all factor into how long ice cream lasts. 

Usually the frozen treat will keep for 1 to 2 months. If bacteria has grown in ice cream and you eat it, it could make you sick. 

Check for sign of spoilage and if there are any throw it away. As you can see, ice cream can go bad and expire, so eat it while it is still good, which won’t be difficult if you enjoy the sweet and creamy frozen treat. . 

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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