When you buy a chocolate bar, you are inclined to check the expiration date written on the packaging to figure out how long the chocolate will be edible for. Or in other cases, you might find a chocolate bar hidden somewhere in your house and look at the expiration date to see if it’s still safe to eat. Although the probability of chocolate leftovers is always very low, it’s good to know what the REAL expiration of chocolate bars is to make sure that you aren’t wasting any chocolate, neither ingesting something inedible.
You might be surprised to know that, despite the expiration date, chocolate stays edible and safe to eat for longer than what’s indicated on the packaging.
Chocolate bars are best eaten as fresh as possible, but they can still be considered edible a few months after the best before date printed on the packaging. However, chocolate makers, whether artisanal or industrial, are very cautious with the best before dates. They’d rather indicate a shorter time frame than a longer one to avoid any health risks for consumers.
Depending on the type of chocolate, the integrity of the package and the kind of storage, there are some general rules to follow.
If unopened and stored properly, dark chocolate lasts 2 years (from the day it was made). If opened, but still stored properly, the rule of thumb is one year. As for milk and white chocolate bars, the time available is cut in half. One year if unopened and stored properly, and 6-8 months if opened and stored properly. Contrary to milk and white chocolate though, dark chocolate doesn’t become inedible after its expiration date, but simply loses its best organoleptic qualities. Some chocolate professionals even believe that dark chocolate becomes better as time goes by. Like wine, some new flavors may develop in the chocolate bar with ageing.
The best proven way to avoid ingesting expired chocolate is to eat it all as soon as possible.