- How long does an unopened package of cereal last? The precise answer depends to a large extent on storage conditions -to maximize the shelf life of unopened cereal (including corn and bran flakes, toasted oats, rice puffs, corn puffs, granola, wheat squares) store in a cool, dry area.
Properly stored, an unopened package of cereal will generally stay at best quality for about one year.
Is unopened cereal safe to use after the "expiration" date on the package? Yes, provided it is properly stored and the package is undamaged - commercially packaged cereal will typically carry a " Best By," "Best if Used By," "Best Before", or "Best When Used By" date but this is not a safety date, it is the manufacturer's estimate of how long the cereal will remain at peak quality.
Storage time shown is for best quality only - after that, the cereal's texture, color or flavor may change, but in most cases, it will still be safe to consume if it has been stored properly, the package is undamaged, and there are no signs of spoilage (see below).
How can you tell if cereal is bad or spoiled? The best way is to smell and look at the cereal: if cereal develops an off odor, flavor or appearance, or if mold appears, it should be discarded.
Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please click here