Expiration Date of Condiment Packets 15

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!

Related Posts:

15 thoughts on “Expiration Date of Condiment Packets

  1. Reply Chris44444 Mar 7,2014 9:33 PM

    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. Reply Outdoor Herbivore Mar 8,2014 9:03 AM

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

  3. Reply Al Sep 25,2014 9:52 AM

    Thank you so much for posting the information!!

  4. Reply Jenny Wilson Oct 25,2015 6:49 PM

    I like cheese.

  5. Reply Kirk Jan 18,2016 3:51 PM

    Is there any benefit to freezing these packets? My plan has been to freeze any extra packets we got,

  6. Reply Outdoor Herbivore Jan 19,2016 12:28 AM

    I don’t recommend freezing the packets. Some of the condiments will separate and turn watery or grainy when frozen. It is best to leave them at room temperature or a cool location.

  7. Reply Mark Jan 26,2016 3:12 PM

    What do you suppose the “best before” life of sweet and sour sauce in clear plastic packets is?

  8. Reply Sandra Azar Jan 30,2016 10:22 AM

    Thank you for this informative post but I hope you could list more products 🙂 anyway, thank you again, your blog is very helpful!

  9. Reply Outdoor Herbivore Jan 30,2016 11:12 PM

    2 years

  10. Reply Allen Swan Feb 3,2016 8:02 AM

    Thanks for posting this information. I typically snack on packets of mayo and such and appreciate the guidelines you’ve posted in such a clear and easy to understand format.

  11. Reply Mark Feb 13,2016 12:49 PM

    This is good info. I guess I need to mark the year on mayo and other packets before I put them in storage.

  12. Reply Kathy May 15,2016 7:42 PM

    I often wondered about how long to keep all the unused condiment packets my family accumulates. This information was very helpful. Thank you for your research.

  13. Reply Sierra May 21,2016 12:59 AM

    What about jam packets

  14. Reply george Jun 15,2016 6:20 PM

    In n out has spread in sealed packets that are unopenable! I am very strong but cannot open the package at all!

  15. Reply Kayla Jun 26,2016 7:02 PM

    I opened my packet of soy sauces and about 3 of them were a clear liquid tasted just like super water down soy sauce. I poured 1/2 package on my rice before noticing and my brother said it would be fine so I ate it. Now I’m worried though because after googling I found nothing. No one had posted any such thing and the only thing I found is that when it spoils it gets darker. Does anyone know what this is?!

Leave a Reply