Just because it’s past the “best by” or expiration date on the package, doesn’t necessarily mean that your Impossible Meat has gone bad.
However, like most other foods, it is possible for Impossible Meat to go bad, so here’s a crash course on what you need to know.
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Can You Eat Impossible Meat After the Package Date?
You may see 2 dates on your package:
- Expiry date – If you purchased Impossible Meat that was already thawed in a refrigerator, it will have an expiry date (within 10 days at most).
- Best by date – All products have a “best by” date. While it’s usually possible to eat it after this date, the taste will simply be worse (i.e. not fresh).
If your Impossible Meat has been in the freezer unopened, you can eat it well after either date with no issues in the vast majority of cases. The dates are required by law and help shield the company from reasonable liability.
How Can You Tell If Impossible Meat Has Expired?
The best way to tell if plant-based meat like Impossible or Beyond Meat has gone bad is by smell.
Plant-based meats always smell a bit funny until you get used to them, but that’s not the smell I’m talking about. If Impossible Meat has truly gone rancid, the smell will be very obvious. For some, it will trigger a gag reflex.
Why Is My Impossible Meat Package Puffed Up?
If your package of Impossible Meat is bloated (i.e. seems like air is trying to push out like a balloon), it’s almost certainly expired.
When microorganisms grow, gases are a common byproduct.
If an air-tight package like Impossible Meat is noticeably bloated, it usually means that quite a bit of gas has built up as a result of undesirable microbial growth.
Why Does Impossible Meat Go Bad?
The main ingredients in Impossible Meat are:
- Soy protein concentrate
- Oils (Coconut and Sunflower)
The protein and oils last a really long time before expiring in their whole states.
However, once you combine them and add water, the moist environment starts to allow bacteria to reproduce. The number of bacteria is low even after a day or two, but since bacteria replicate exponentially, they can quickly get out of hand after.
Just about all foods contain some microbes. The water in Impossible Meat helps create an environment where they can multiply. Even though microbes grow at a slow rate in cold temperatures (i.e. fridge temperatures), they can still get to dangerous levels if enough time passes.
How Long Does Impossible Meat Last in the Fridge?
According to Impossible Meat, you should ideally only keep an unopened package of Impossible Meat in the fridge for up to 10 days.
As a personal anecdote, I’ve eaten some plant-based meats that were in the fridge for about 20 days with no issues. Again, smell it and you’ll have a really good idea.
If the package is opened, you should ideally cook it within 3 days.
How Long Does Impossible Meat Last in the Freezer?
Just like meat from animals, Impossible Meat can last for an extremely long time in the freezer. Impossible still recommends eating it by the “best by” date, but you can still eat it safely after that date within reason (i.e. not years after).
Freezing foods slows down degradation and bacterial growth to near zero, but it still does go bad slowly over time. Additionally, not all freezers are the same temperature, which can affect how long the Impossible Meat will last.
What Happens If You Eat Impossible Meat That Has Expired?
Hypothetically, what if you ate Impossible Meat that had gone a little bad?
Assuming you could actually get it down, the expected symptoms would be those of mild food poisoning. This includes:
- Upset stomach
In the majority of cases, this would not require medical attention. But in rare cases it can, and it’s not something you want to take a risk on.
I know it sucks to waste food, especially expensive food, but eating clearly expired food is almost never worth it.