Is It Safe To Drink Expired Soda? Here's What We Know

While cleaning out your refrigerator or pantry, you've probably come across various spices, jars of mayonnaise, or canned foods that have been around for a while. While infant formula is the only food the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires to have a use-by stamp, food and drink manufacturers aren't obligated to date any of their products. However, these dates aren't arbitrary. For the most part, these dates indicate when the products retain their best quality. Other dates are used by manufacturers to identify when the product was made.

So what about those cans of Diet Pepsi your mother left when she last visited? If the bottom of the cans shows the drinks are past their prime, the USDA says they're still safe to drink. Carbonated drinks aren't perishable, so you'll be safe in packing them in that time capsule if you'd like. However, they might lose their taste and fizz after a while. 

Best-by dates are about quality, not safety

A best-by date will tell you when the product is at its best quality and when its peak quality ends. If the date on the Diet Pepsi is next week, you'll still have three months to drink it until its quality begins to decline. If it's a can of regular Pepsi, it can last for nine months after its stamped date. A container of opened soda can be stored in the refrigerator or pantry, although it will lose its carbonation more quickly.

Seeing a best-by date on drinks might be confusing, but the USDA assures us that any foods or drinks with this label are safe to consume, provided there's no evidence of spoilage, such as it smelling bad or having a different color or texture. Even so, spoilage bacteria won't make you sick like pathogenic bacteria. Spoilage bacteria will make deterioration occur much faster, and the food or drink probably won't taste very good.

What happens after soda expires?

Because soda is basically carbonated water and sugar (or artificial sugar), unopened soda isn't likely to go bad until well after its best-by date. It might even retain the taste after a few years. If you've already opened a can or bottle of soda, it still might retain its taste after a few days, even if it loses the bubbles.

It's best to keep an open soda can in a place where the temperature is consistent. Cover the top of the can or pour it into a plastic bottle to retain the bubbles. Plastic bottles should be kept in a dark place like a pantry. However, room temperature causes a soda to lose its carbonation more quickly.

A soda might taste bad if the can or bottle is rusted or damaged. Check the color of the soda as well. If the color or smell of the soda doesn't seem right, it might be best to toss it out.