Does Feta Go Bad? Look for These Signs.

Last Updated on November 5, 2022 by Aaron

Is your feta cheese still good to eat? And what would happen if you ate a spoiled one? More importantly, how to tell if feta has gone off?

Feta cheese has a strong sour yeastly tang. Learn more about the taste of feta.

Yes, feta will go bad. Fresh feta smells mildly acidic with a little pungent aroma. It should be sleek dry, crumbly, and slimy on the outside but not the inside when you cut it open. A good feta will tastes milky, savoury, tangy and salty.

The spoiled feta will have an overly strong sour smell. The texture can be dried and darkened. For brined feta, the surface can get more slimy than usual, mushy and also sticky. Likely with molds or darken spots on it.

People says feta taste like vomit… read on below.

How Long Does Feta Last?

Feta cheese will not last long if sit out unrefrigerated. It serves best within 2 to 4 hours at room temperature, you should be aware if longer than that as mold and bacteria will start to take place and multiply quickly. Look for cluster dots or dark spots.

Opened feta that comes in brined water will last for 2 to 4 weeks in fridge. If unopened, it can last for months in fridge — the printed expired date is usually 3 months after the production.

As for the crumbled feta or block feta, in the fridge, can last for 3 months if unopened. It reduces to a week or less if opened. Below is the comparison table:

Crumbled/Block Feta (unopened)Crumbled/Block Feta (opened)Brined Feta (unopened)Brined Feta (opened)
Refrigerated shelf life3 months1 week or less3 months 2-4 weeks

What Happens If You Eat Expired Feta?

An ‘expired’ feta doesn’t always go bad after its expiry date, while a spoiled feta will likely taste bad. So, sometimes it is OK to eat expired feta.

It’s important to note that if feta cheese smells odd, looks slimy or mushy, and even has molds growing on it, you should definitely not eating it.

Consuming a spoiled feta may contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Some molds will also produce poisonous substances called mycotoxins, which can cause serious issue to your health. Symptoms such as upset stomach, allergic reaction, or even threaten your life.

Learn more about 5 Reasons of Allergy After Eating Feta.

Is Feta Supposed to Smell Off?

Not at all. Fresh feta will have a pleasant smell.

Feta carries a mild acidic tangy smell naturally. That’s because the (Greek) feta production ages the cheese for at least 2-3 months and brined in an oak barrel. The salt-loving molds and bacteria will then start to take place breaking down the lactose and protein compounds. The process will release a slightly sour or “off” smell that you’ll find it similar to the spoiled food.

Same goes for other salt-fermented foods as well, such as the Chinese stinky tofu and Surströmming. That’s why feta is not suitable for people with histamine intolerance — high histamine in feta.

There is also a yeast-like or mushroom smell in the feta cheese. Different types of yeast are found in feta cheese, which could be blamed for the off-flavor and spoilage.

Feta can have bad odor like feet or socks (after a day work), or even similar to mulched lawn clippings. It could be due to the bacteria E. faecium found in all stages during feta cheese manufacturing. The same bacteria also found in the bowel and gut.

Notably, bacteria like L. brevis (1) producing a harsh, vinegar-like flavor (2). Some other Lactobacillus in feta cheese are responsible for the production of stinky Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VOCs) (3), which commonly found in sweaty feet.

How to Know: Feta Is Not Okay to Eat

First, always check the expiry date. You will never know how long you left them in the fridge. A few days or a week is likely okay.

Next, inspect the cheese’s surface. It should be tofu-like but crumbly and rigid. Make sure there’s no mold or dark spots on it. Sometimes, mold can be too small to spot or in contrast colors and structure, and a big cluster or scattered.

Touch the texture for consistency of feta. If it feels mushy, slimy or sticky, toss it away.

If refrigerating crumbled feta for too long, it will become hard and dry. Still safe to eat, but likely unpleasant.

Lastly, smell your feta cheese. Give it a good sniff, it should smell fresh with a mild pleasant sourness. A bad one might have an overly sour smell, strong “off” odor, and even beer-like smell.

How to Store Feta Easily

You can simply keep your unfinished crumbled feta or brined feta (keep the water as well) in the fridge.

Use an airtight container, or a sealable zipper bag. For zipper bag, squeeze out as much air as possible. Cover your feta cheese completely in the solution and keep it in the fridge.

Block feta or crumbed feta will usually become dry. You can extend the shelf life and texture simply by preparing a brine water (dissolve 2 tsp. salt in 1 cup of water), toss the feta in and keep in refrigeration. Alternatively, you can use salted milk too.

Check for molds every time in between the movement.

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