With electrolytes and quick burning carbohydrates, Gatorade and other sports drinks have become pretty standard hydration for workouts. Of course, if you buy too much on sale, the question always arises: can Gatorade go bad? How long should you store those bottles of sports drink, or even the powdered mix?
Can Gatorade Go Bad?
Like many flavored beverages, Gatorade (and other sports drinks) can go bad. Unopened sports drinks can stay shelf stable for up to nine months past the written expiration date. Once the bottle has been opened, the shelf life reduces to about five days in the refrigerator.
The dry powder that can be mixed with water to make gatorade can also go bad, after enough time passes. If the container is unopened, its shelf life is about two years past the written expiration date. Once opened, the product will begin to degrade in quality, and should be consumed within six months.
Like an open bottle of Gatorade, once the powder has been combined with water to make a drink, the beverage should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and should be consumed within five days.
Image used under Creative Commons from Mike Mozart
Signs That Gatorade Has Gone Bad
Bottles of gatorade that have been opened will begin to spoil after a few days, though visual signs might not be that obvious. Changes in color and texture are the main indicators. You may notice the drink begins to darken, form clumps, or form a crust near the opening of the bottle.
The taste and smell will also change, becoming less flavorful and a bit sour. Additionally, any sour or off-putting smell is an indication that the drink has gone bad and should not be consumed. Should you notice any mold growing in the bottle, the drink should not be consumed.
Once a container of powdered Gatorade has been opened, the quality will begin to decline fairly rapidly, depending on conditions. Though this degradation won’t necessarily lead to an unsafe product, the taste and texture can be significantly different. Gatorade can clump because of exposure to moisture. Some clumping is likely fine, but once the powder has formed a solid mass, the Gatorade should not be consumed.
Should you open the container of Gatorade powder to find any sign of insects, or mold (though it is highly unlikely that powdered Gatorade will grow mold), the drink mix should be discarded.
How to Store Gatorade
Bottled Gatorade, and other sports drinks, should be stored in a cool, dark place away from moisture or heat. The best place to store unopened bottles of gatorade is actually your pantry, or cellar. Storing unopened bottles of Gatorade in the refrigerator will not dramatically increase their shelf life. Similarly, freezing bottled Gatorade will not really increase the shelf life, and the process of freezing could burst the bottle. Once the bottle has been opened, it should be kept in the refrigerator.
Powdered Gatorade that has not been opened can also be stored in a cool, dark place away from light, heat or moisture. Once the container has been opened, the moisture in the air will start to degrade the product. While the plastic container has a lid to keep out insects, the moisture in the air can still seep inside.
To extend the shelf life of powdered Gatorade, you could transfer the powder to an airtight container, like a glass jar. Oxygen absorbers or food grade desiccant packets will help to keep the drink powder from clumping up. Heavy duty zip top freezer bags with an oxygen absorber will also help to keep the powder fresh, and can come in handy on long camping trips!