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Does Protein Powder Expire?

80 Hours of Research

40 Reviews Examined

3 Experts Interviewed

David | A Lean Life

Published by David Williams

As an engineer, David loves technical product comparison and analyzing the data to assess top products.

Table of Contents

Sometimes you get carried away with the small doses that you forget to track the expiry date of your protein powder. Just when you remember to check, it’s already two weeks past the “use by” date. So what next?

Do you go ahead and make your delicious, muscle-building supplement shake or toss it? What happens if consumed past the stamped expiry date?

Even more critical question; Are protein powders similar to milk, where you sniff-test to determine its effect on your gastrointestinal inner workings? We will briefly explore the protein powder’s expiry to understand this scenario better.

Does Protein Powder’s Expiration Date Matter?

Not entirely. That’s because when stored in a dry environment within its packaging, it’s nearly impossible for microbes to start growing in the powder. In fact, the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) does not oblige supplement manufacturers to produce products’ expiry dates.

Nonetheless, many companies add a ‘best by’ tag on their supplements. The label only refers to a period during which the product will be at its best quality. It should not be mistaken for an expiry date.

An accelerated shelf test research found that whey protein powder has a shelf life of up to 12 months. Under normal conditions, 70°F (21°C) and 35% humidity, it can last up to 19 months. At the same time, brands that contain preservatives such as salt, maltodextrin, and lecithin have a shelf life of up to 2 years.

That means as long as you’re not storing your canisters in humid and warm places like a gym locker or bathroom, it’s not going to expire. With that said, there are a few more things to consider.

Expiring Soon

What is the effect of consuming expired Protein Powder?

According to FDA, expiration or use-by date only indicates the time of the best quality and not safety. Therefore, consuming protein powder after the set use-by-date does not pose any known risks. However, you will only get a low-quality supplement. (1)

Quality degradation of whey protein starts from the date of manufacture. You can blame it on a chemical reaction known as Maillard browning.

This reaction starts when protein reacts with sugar left over during whey extraction from milk. The result is a gradual breakdown of its amino acid lysine. Ideally, when you lose lysine, you no longer have a complete powder.

One study shows that the levels of amino acid lysine in whey protein dropped from 5.5% to 4.2% in 12 months. The research was done under normal conditions. (2)

It would be great if you also kept in mind the storage condition. For example, storage areas with high moisture may trigger bacterial and fungal growth on your product.

A Harvard University publication shows that whey protein stored at 113°F (45°C) for 15 weeks showed changes in taste. That was due to the oxidation of various ingredients in the product. (3)

Is There a Way to Check When Your Protein Powder Goes Bad?

Rancid SmellYes! You can play a pinch of the powder on your tongue a few days past its expiration date. If it tastes like cardboard, then there are signs of Maillard browning, and you should toss it away. (4)

If your protein powder has always tasted like cardboard, it’s probably too old. It’s time to replenish your shelf with a new brand.

Other ways to know that your protein powder has gone wrong include:

  • Rancid smell
  • Changes in color
  • Clumping
  • Bitter taste

Consuming spoilt protein powder poses a considerable health risk. That’s regardless of the expiry date.

Parting Shot

Protein powder is a popular supplement for athletic individuals and the diet-conscious lot. Most of these products will carry an expiry date of 2 years after manufacture. To date, there is no evidence of harm caused by consuming protein powder shortly after the expiry date. However, it would be best to look out for spoilt products as they can be hazardous.

Click to know what are the best protein powders.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

References

  1. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Home | Food Safety and Inspection Service. (n.d.).
    https://www.fsis.usda.gov/
  2. Tunick, M. H., Thomas-Gahring, A., Van Hekken, D. L., Iandola, S. K., Singh, M., Qi, P. X., Ukuku, D. O., Mukhopadhyay, S., Onwulata, C. I., & Tomasula, P. M. (2016, March). Physical and chemical changes in whey protein concentrate stored at elevated temperature and humidity. Journal of dairy science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26778305
  3. Javidipour, I., & Qian, M. C. (n.d.). Volatile component change in whey protein concentrate during storage investigated by headspace solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography – dairy science & technology. SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1051/dst:2007010
  4. Maillard reaction. Maillard Reaction – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.).
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/maillard-reaction