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Can Chocolate Go Bad?

Can chocolate go bad? Chocolate is a great treat for both kids and adults. But do you know how long it can last, or whether it expires at all? If not, this article will give you all the basic information about chocolate that you need.

How long does chocolate last?

Answer to this questions depends on the kind of chocolate. As a rule of thumb you should remember that dark chocolate lasts longer than milk or white one.

As long as the package of the chocolate bar is unopened, dark chocolate should be fine for at least two years, white and milk ones for a year. Once the package is opened, dark chocolate should be of great quality for a year, white and milk ones for maybe 8-10 months.

Storage of chocolate is very important when it comes to the shelf life of chocolate. If you store chocolate in a pretty cool environment, like in the pantry, it will definitely last longer.

Jello and whipped cream, sprinkled with grated chocolate
Jello and whipped cream, sprinkled with grated chocolate

Keeping chocolate in the fridge isn’t recommended, unless you live in a very hot and humid environment.

After opening the package, make sure to always keep the chocolate wrapped tightly when it’s stored.

When it comes to storing chocolate, there’s one more thing worth mentioning. If it wasn’t stored properly, meaning it was stored in either hot or humid environment, chocolate can develop a white or grey film.

That film is called chocolate bloom and it’s not harmful. The film is caused by the separation of either cocoa butter or sugar from the chocolate. This might cause that the taste of the chocolate will be different, but it’s fine to eat.

Ground chocolate on strawberry whipped cream
Ground chocolate on strawberry whipped cream

Does chocolate expire? How to tell if chocolate is bad?

Chocolate does expire – after some time, even if it was stored properly, chocolate will go bad.

How to tell if it is bad? In most cases you’ll be able to see white spots or mold growing on the chocolate bar. When that happens, discard the chocolate immediately.

If you find any local discolorations, throwing the chocolate to the trash can is the best thing to do as well.

Three chocolate cubes
(credit: Nicolas Ukrman)

If it looks fine, smells like chocolate and tastes fine, it’s safe to eat it.

If the chocolate is after its “Best by” date and you notice that some things aren’t quite right, discard it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Of course, the “Use by” date only means that the chocolate should be of best quality up until that time and it doesn’t mean that it goes bad the day after. It’s just an indicator that the quality of the product doesn’t have to be the best after that time, and it’s quite normal that certain products lose their taste with time.

Whipped heavy cream sprinkled with chocolate
Whipped heavy cream sprinkled with chocolate

As you can see, the answer to the main question “can chocolate go bad” is affirmative. Chocolate in most cases is fine for a longer period of time than its “Best by” or “Use by” states, but that doesn’t last forever. After some time (even a couple of years if stored in cool environment) it will eventually go bad.