Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Aaron
We all know that sinking feeling when we open the fridge, reach for our favorite spread, and realize it’s past its prime.
Panic sets in, and you start to wonder what you should do next.
Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll discuss whether it is still good to eat and the potential consequences of eating spoiled cream cheese and guide you through the steps to take if you’ve accidentally consumed it.
So, take a deep breath and read on.
Table of Contents
Assess the Situation: How Spoiled Was It?
First things first, how spoiled was the cream cheese? Was it just a little past its expiration date, or were there clear signs of spoilage, such as mold, an off smell, or changes in texture?
The shelf life of cream cheese depends on how it is stored.
For example, a tub or block of cream cheese can go bad really fast if unrefrigerated, and ideally, you shouldn’t let it sit out for longer than 2 hours after opening. It spoiled quickly.
On the other hand, a proper fridged cream cheese will likely stay good for about 1-2 weeks after opening.
Typically, unopened cream cheese can last for about three to four weeks past its printed expiration date, while opened cream cheese should be consumed within two weeks.
Signs of Spoiled Cream Cheese
If you have your expired cream cheese showing any of those molds in the images above, they are not okay to consume and should be discarded immediately.
Generally, look out for these signs:
- A sour or off smell: Trust your nose – if it doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t.
- Mold or discoloration: Any visible mold or unusual colors are a definite red flag.
- Changes in texture: If your cream cheese is too watery, grainy, or has separated, it’s time to say goodbye.
Unlike hard cheeses like cheddar or parmesan, simply removing the contaminated part doesn’t work on soft cheese like cream cheese. These microscopic monsters will move, penetrate, and infest other areas very fast, which cannot be seen by our naked eyes.
And until you notice them, the whole tub is no longer safe to eat.
Remember, when in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Expired cream cheese just isn’t worth the risk!
If Accidentally Eat Spoiled Cream Cheese
After consuming spoiled cream cheese, it’s crucial to be vigilant about monitoring any symptoms you may experience. Food poisoning from spoiled dairy products can result in various symptoms, including:
- Stomach cramps
These symptoms typically appear within hours of consumption, but in some cases, they can take up to a few days to manifest. While it’s not always a life-threatening situation, if you experience severe or worsening symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Learn more about food poisoning.
Store it right!
Cream cheese should be stored in the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below. It is okay to keep it in its original packaging or an airtight container to prevent drying out and absorbing odors.
If you always like to keep things neat and tidy, try this one cream cheese airtight holder I found on Amazon for your cream cheese block.
Remember to press out all the air before wrapping it tightly. Then, wrap it with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and then place it in an airtight container. And then, label it.
And when every time you want to use it, do it quickly and place it back. Never let it sit out at room temperature for more than two hours to avoid bacterial growth.
If you don’t want to be bound to an expiration date or use it soon, you can actually consider freezing cream cheese. It can last for up to 2 months in an airtight container, but the texture might change slightly grainy after thawing. Also, some whey can be separated from the cheese curds as the ice crystals form. I have a complete guide for freezing the cream cheese.
A guy posted on Flickr claimed to taste his 3-year-old cream cheese which he found in the fridge and wasn’t moldy, saying “a little like a block of aged cream cheese. Not bad.”
An absolute legend.
Is It OK to Use Expired Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a perishable dairy. While it’s not recommended to use expired cream cheese, sometimes it just looks OK and fresh. It depends on your situation.
Still, a product passed the expiration date means that the quality is no longer guaranteed and there is a risk attached.
These expiration timeframes can vary depending on factors like storage conditions and the specific brand. Always use your senses and judgment to determine if your cream cheese is still safe to eat.
From my experience, it’s important to note that the expiration date on your cream cheese package is more of a quality indicator than a safety deadline. Cream cheese may still be safe to eat past the date, but its taste, texture, and overall quality could be compromised, i.e. a bit of water on the surface (which is normal).
Trust your senses and check for signs of spoilage before indulging.