Does Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire?

Kraft mac and cheese is that wonderful pantry-filler that it’s nearly impossible to say no to. No matter what mood you might be in, or what might be going on in the world around you, you can be sure that Kraft mac and cheese will be there, easy to make, and eternally constant in its wonderful quality.

However, if you’ve got a pantry cupboard stacked with boxes of kraft mac and cheese, you may ask yourself whether or not the good stuff can expire. That’s a perfectly reasonable question, and one that we’re sure most people have asked themselves at one time or another. We’ve all had one of those especially long days in which a battered, ancient box of mac and cheese looks like it’s probably not that bad.

In this article, we’re going to run through a few key questions about Kraft mac and cheese – including whether or not it expires at all, as well as how you can know if it’s still good in your pantry, even after all that time it’s spent there.

Does Kraft mac and cheese expire?

Technically, yes, Kraft mac and cheese can expire! This might be a total shock to you,  just like it is to us, but it’s the truth, we promise.

The date on the box is, thankfully, vastly in advance of the time at which the mac and cheese is unsafe to eat. Instead, it’s the date that Kraft selected as the best time frame to enjoy your mac and cheese in – that’s a best before date, not a true expiry date. Therefore, as long as you’re fairly close to the date on the box, the food will likely be safe, it just might not be quite as tasty as it once could have been.

Shelf-stable food like Kraft mac and cheese is a wonderful thing since it remains wonderfully safe to eat long after purchase. As a general rule of thumb, Kraft mac and cheese is safe to eat as long as two years after purchase. There is one important caveat, though: it must be unopened!

If the mac and cheese has been opened, then there is a chance that some contaminants may have gotten into the box. In that case, the mac and cheese may have taken on some bad bacteria, leading to it being unsafe for you to eat. While this is quite unlikely, it’s certainly not worth the risk – we would recommend throwing out a box of Kraft mac and cheese if the internal packaging has ripped, or is otherwise open.

How to tell if Kraft mac and cheese has gone bad

This can be a little tricky, as there aren’t that many different things to go on when considering whether or not a box of Kraft mac and cheese has gone bad. Dried mac and cheese from a box is designed to last as long as possible, in utterly dry conditions, so it’s unlikely to grow mold or anything like that.

If all of the ingredients within a box of Kraft mac and cheese are still in their original packaging, and entirely sealed, then you can be fairly sure that they’re in fine condition, and safe to eat. If the mac and cheese is within the date on the box, then it’s certainly fine.

If any element of the packaging has been opened, however, there is a possibility of moisture seeping in. There may be some signs of mold, and the sauce mixture may have become soft or lumpy.

Regardless of what has happened to the mac and cheese box mix, the flavor packet will, eventually, become entirely devoid of flavor. The reason for this is that the ingredients will evaporate slightly, losing flavor over time, and becoming a poor imitation of what they once were. In that situation, you may be best served by throwing the mac and cheese out – it probably won’t taste good.

Generally speaking, if you eat get to mac and cheese within two or three years of purchase, and as long as it doesn’t smell bad, then it’s likely fine to eat. It’s a dried product, designed to last as long as possible.

Can you store Kraft mac and cheese in the refrigerator?

Technically, yes, you can store Kraft mac and cheese in the fridge. This would be a good move if you had cooked the mac and cheese, and you were hoping to keep it in as ideal a condition as possible so that you can come back to it at a later date.

If the box is unopened, however, this is a poor choice. Fridges have a very high level of humidity within them, meaning that storing cardboard within them will lead to degradation over a fairly short space of time and, in turn, can lead to spoilage of the flavor packets much more quickly than at room temperature.

To be sure that the mac and cheese box mix is being stored at the optimum conditions, we would recommend storing it at room temperature – keeping it in the fridge is more than likely to lead to degradation of the contents of the packet in a very short space of time.

How to make sure that you store Kraft mac and cheese properly

The entire point of Kraft mac and cheese is that it’s incredibly durable, and can last for a wonderfully long time. In so many ways, it’s a modern marvel that we can keep and store Kraft mac and cheese as we do.

You can, in all truthfulness, just throw Kraft mac and cheese on top of a cupboard in your home, before leaving it and coming back two years later – it will still be just as good as when you first threw it up on the cupboard.

The flavor packet is the weak link, in truth. Even if stored out in the open, dry pasta stores very well – if the flavor packet is exposed to sunlight, air, or moisture, however, it is liable to lose a lot of its flavor and longevity.

To that end, keep your Kraft mac and cheese in a cool, dry place, with no sun or artificial light. It will stay good for a long, long time!

Kunal Sharma
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