Expiration Date of Condiment Packets 4

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Do you stow extra condiment packets from fast food restaurants?  In particular, we keep a sandwich bag stocked in our cupboard of Taco Bell Fire Sauce. These packets are useful to take backpacking or to spread on your home-made burrito when you run out of refrigerated salsa. I’ve seen other people stashing a little bit of everything – mayo, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, relish, honey, parmesan cheese, salad dressing, sugar, salt/pepper, plastic cups of jelly.condiment packets

If you examine the condiment, most do not have an expiration date. Packets are shipped by the thousand in bulk and a recommended manufacture “Expiration Date” is displayed on the container.  The date on the shipping box is usually not an official expiration date, but a “Best By” date to ensure peak quality – and in most cases, you can consume products after this date as long as they are stored properly.

What is the shelf life of condiment packets?

There is no official guideline from the USDA or FDA for condiments – or any food for that matter. With the exception of infant formula and some baby foods, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations (source: fsis.usda.gov).

Sealed foil packaged condiments provide an impermeable barrier from light, air and moisture. This allows the product to last from years – if not decades.

Guidelines:

  • Before consuming the condiment, inspect the packaging. If it appears puffy or is damaged, toss it; When you open the packet, inspect it; If it has an odd color, texture, flavor or odor, toss it.
  • Condiments containing fats (mayo, butter) go rancid more quickly.
  • Paper based packets can spoil faster. Salt does not go bad. Cane sugar does not go bad. Ground Pepper loses flavor after 3 – 4 years as the oils dry out, but is still fine to consume.
  • Vinegar is safe to consume indefinitely due to the acetic acid content, but the packaged salad vinegars will lose peak flavor in as little as 1 year.
  • Honey does not spoil because of the high sugar and low moisture content. Make sure the honey is actual bee honey and not corn syrup.
  • The plastic tubs of jelly with the top peel may last 2 – 3 years.  Plastic creamers and margarine cups expire quickly and must be refrigerated.

We referenced a handful of resources – including the manufacturer’s recommended “Best By” dates and compiled this data for some of the most common condiments.

condiment expiration dates

Condiment For Optimal Flavor
Mayonnaise 1 year
Relish 1 year
BBQ Sauce 1 year
Tartar Sauce 1 year
Horseradish Sauce 1 year
Maple Syrup 1 year
Nut Butters – Almond, Peanut, Cashew 1 year
Salad Dressing 1 year
Ketchup 1 year
Olive Oil 1 – 2 years
Parmesan Cheese 1 – 2 years
Taco sauce 1 – 2 years
Mustard 1 – 2 years
Soy Sauce 1 – 2 years
Tabasco sauce 3 – 4 years
Pepper 3 – 4 years
Vinegar 3 – 4 years
Honey Indefinite
Salt Indefinite
Sugar Indefinite
Artificial Sweeteners Eat at your own risk!

Find something missing? The website StillTasty offers a accurate look-up tool for bottled condiments.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy some real food packed with substance and plant-based spices. You may find you don’t want (or need) all those condiment packets covering up the taste!

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4 comments on “Expiration Date of Condiment Packets

  1. Chris44444 on said:

    I would like to see more detailed information on other products and I also noticed that the picture that you have posted on this website or blog (packets of hot fire sauce from Taco Bell) is not on the chart or table you’ve provided. Aside from this, I do appreciate the effort that has been made in providing more facts for the general public. Thank you.

  2. Outdoor Herbivore on said:

    The hot sauce is on the chart as ‘taco sauce’ & lasts 1-2 years.

  3. Thank you so much for posting the information!!

  4. What’s up to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more from this web site, and your views are good designed for new people.

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