Cream cheese is one of the favorite breakfast products, especially among children. In most cases, you’ll eat it quickly because it’s incredibly delicious, but it’s possible to find a forgotten package in the back of your fridge. In such a case, the main question is, does cream cheese go bad?
Typically, this product contains preservatives that inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold and, in most cases, prevent spoilage. Consequently, most unopened cream cheese refrigerated will last up to one month from the printed expiration date.
Does cream cheese go bad?
Cream cheese has been a favorite breakfast food in America since dairyman William Lawrence made it from milk fat in 1873. Its smooth consistency makes it easy to use in many combinations, especially nowadays when you can find this product in different flavors.
However, you should be careful when using this product made from fresh milk as it can spoil if stored improperly. Although its shelf life depends on processing methods, a rule of thumb is that soft cheese always spoils faster than hard. This is due to high humidity.
How long does cream cheese last?
On average, your cream cheese will last 3 to 4 weeks past the ‘best before’ label on the package. However, it mainly depends on the shape of the cheese, proper storage, heat exposure, and processing method.
This soft, high-fat cheese is made from non-skimmed milk and cream and usually comes in several forms, including regular, whipped, low-fat and flavored varieties.
If you plan to keep it for a long time, it must be stored below 40 F (4.4 C). In most cases it will be safe to use about 2 to 4 weeks after the expiration date. When left at room temperature, your cream cheese will probably go bad after only 2 hours.
6 Tips to Tell If Cream Cheese Has Spoiled
Unfortunately, your cream cheese will go bad even if you store it properly. You should do your best, but it’s important to recognize the first signs of trouble. In most cases, it will be very clear when the product is no longer edible. Let’s see.
- Liquid – If you see a dry cream cheese surface with large pools of liquid, you can be sure that the spoilage process has begun. Time to stop using this product.
- Aroma – Fresh cream cheese has a pleasant mild and mild aroma. Any unpleasant tangy, sour, pungent, rotten, or musty odors are a good indicator of spoilage.
- Taste – In most cases, a cream cheese that looks and smells as expected will taste just as well. However, you should check the taste if the product has been refrigerated for more than one month past the expiration date, even if the smell has not changed. Any sour taste is an indication to throw it away.
- Color – Fresh cream cheese is white or light creamy in color. As soon as the product turns yellow with blue or green spots, it is definitely spoiled.
- Texture – Once cream cheese loses its spreadable texture and becomes dry, lumpy, cracked, or waxy under a wet or separated surface, you should get rid of it. It is the same with a product with a thin, chalky, or granular texture. A very soft consistency is a sign of bacteria or mold, which means your cream cheese is no longer edible.
- Mold – You may see mold on the finished cream cheese in some cases, which is a sign to throw it away immediately. Most cheese molds are harmless, but you can’t be sure. Some of them produce toxins that cause serious health problems. So don’t put yourself in danger. Once the mold appears, you cannot save any piece of this product.
4 Tips for Storing Cream Cheese
While all types of food can last longer if you store them properly, this is especially true for dairy products, including cream cheese. You already know how quickly this food spoils, so you need to do your best to extend its life as much as possible.
You should use clean utensils whenever you cook or spread cream cheese. Never touch a spoon or knife to your mouth or put cream cheese next to raw meat. The only way to prolong the life of this product is to use separate containers, no matter how impractical it may be during eating.
Kitchen and Pantry
Don’t leave cream cheese on a kitchen cabinet at room temperature or even in the pantry for more than two hours. Because bacteria thrive at temperatures between 40 and 140 F (4.5 – 60 C), the only way to protect your food is to refrigerate it as soon as possible.
Store an unopened package of cream cheese in the refrigerator away from the door, to keep it fresh longer.
Once you open a new package, you should pack it properly, but avoid putting it in an open bowl. The best solution is to protect it by keeping it in an airtight container. Remember that an opened package will always be smaller than an unopened package. At best, it will have a shelf life of about ten days.
Another option is to wrap your food in foil to prevent bacterial contamination. Once you’ve opened the foil-wrapped , you should put it in an airtight container because resealing the foil won’t seal the package airtight.
It’s important to keep your cream away from moisture to prevent it from growing mold. Once mold affects the food, you cannot store it and the entire package has to be thrown away.
The best way to extend the life of cream cheese is to store it in the freezer. You can store some varieties this way for about two months.
Always wrap the cream cheese well, and then store it in a zip lock bag or airtight container. It is the best solution to slow down the oxidation process. Be careful to keep it away from other foods, especially raw meat.
Once you decide to melt it, you should leave it in the fridge overnight. Then, put it in a bowl and start whisking until it is smooth enough to use.
Avoid keeping this product in the freezer for months as it is very susceptible to ice crystals forming and melting. As a result, it will lose a lot of water and become crushed. Also, you can expect it to lose its special flavor. In such a case, it would only be suitable for food preparation, but not for consumption.
Dangers of consuming expired cream cheese
Since cream cheese has a short shelf life, you should be careful while eating it. The pasteurization process will kill most dangerous microorganisms, but the product still contains a high water content, which can cause microbial contamination over time.
So you should eat this type of cheese within two weeks of opening. Always use a clean knife to spread it, reseal the package well after use, and store it in the refrigerator. Otherwise cream chees expired
Pregnant women, elderly and people with weak immune system should avoid this food. Once you see any sign of mold, you should throw away the entire package as the spores quickly contaminate the entire piece.
Another risk is harmful bacteria, especially Listeria, E. coli, Brucella and Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. The first symptoms that appear are:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Keep in mind that some dangerous molds produce mycotoxins. Their consumption leads to severe food poisoning and can cause immunodeficiency. The carcinogen aflatoxin often increases the likelihood of developing liver cancer.
Can you freeze cream cheese?
While you can freeze , it’s not always recommended because the product loses its creamy texture after thawing. In such a case, you will get a piece of food that is inedible, but you can use it for cooking.
If you have leftover foil-wrapped , you can store them in the freezer to extend their shelf life by up to two months. Wrap the product tightly to prevent exposure to air and cause drying.
Keep in mind that the best by date on the label is only an indication of when the seller believes the product will lose its best quality.
However, you can use your unopened cream cheese at least a few weeks after that date. Once you open the pack, you can use the product for about ten days, although the best by date has passed.