Believe it or not, forgetting you have a container of protein powder in the back of a cabinet is pretty common.
When you finally pull it out, the question is:
“Can I still use it?”
The answer is maybe.
Does vegan protein powder expire? Yes, absolutely.
But that doesn’t mean that the powder is unusable at the exact date listed on the container.
While most companies set an expiration date of about 2 years from manufacturing, it’s still often possible to use it after that date, under certain conditions.
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Is It Safe To Use Expired Vegan Protein Powder?
No one will tell you to consume an expired product, since it’s a liability issue.
But if you’re fine taking the risk of feeling a bit unwell, that’s up to you.
Businesses are required to set an expiration date on all food products, so they estimate a point where they’re sure that all products will still be in ideal condition by.
There’s 3 things on the side arguing that it’s okay to consume vegan protein powder, even a while after the expiration date:
- The expiration date is an estimate, not an exact calculation.
- We’re not dealing with milk or meat – We can eliminate a significant chunk of bacterial concerns just from this. Hemp, pea, soy, and other plant proteins generally keep better.
- Protein powders are typically kept in dry environments (i.e. the container) – The powder itself is already dehydrated, and without exposure to moisture, it’s difficult for microbes of any kind to grow.
What Happens When Vegan Protein Powder Goes Bad?
When protein powder goes bad, there are 2 main concerns:
- Microorganisms like mold can grow and make you quite sick if you ingest enough of them.
- The quality of the protein can degrade. One study showed that some amino acids in protein powder were reduced by over 20% over the course of 12 months.
The higher the temperature you’ve stored the protein at, the more likely any breakdown or microorganism growth has started to occur. If your protein has been sitting in a cold and dry pantry, you can be somewhat optimistic.
How Can You Tell if Vegan Protein Powder Has Gone Bad?
Without expensive lab equipment, the best way to tell if your vegan protein has expired is by using your smell and taste.
If it smells significantly off what you remember and expect, toss it.
If it smells fine, taste a bit of it before mixing. Again, if it tastes really bad, it’s likely expired, so toss it.
I understand that protein powder is expensive, but it’s not expensive enough to make it worth getting sick over. If the cost is truly an issue, sort by cost in our table of the top vegan protein powders to find a cheap replacement.
But, if it smells and tastes normal, you’re probably fine to keep using it, just accept that you’re taking a bit of a risk.
It can be difficult to tell if protein powder has actually gone bad. If you can smell or taste anything weird, it’s likely quite far gone and it’s not worth taking the chance on.
Worried About Buying Too Much Protein Powder?
Vegan protein powder is usually more expensive than whey protein, so buying in bulk to save money makes a lot of sense.
But you also don’t want to buy too much and it ends up going bad.
Here’s a quick table that shows you how long a protein powder lasts based on your consumption rate:
|Protein Shakes per Week||How Long 1 lb (454 g) Lasts|
|2||Just under 2 months|
When I order protein powder in bulk, I aim to consume it within a year at the absolute maximum.
So if you drink 1 shake a day, you can order up to 24 lbs at a time (which is a ton).
If you only drink a couple shakes per week, don’t order more than 5-6 lbs of vegan protein powder at a time to be on the safe side.