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Do Spices Ever Go Bad?

Question: I have some opened bottles of spices in my cupboard that I purchased about five years ago. Are they still okay to use?

Answer:  From a safety perspective they should be fine, but when it comes to flavoring your food, you may not be very happy with the results.

As seasoning makers like McCormick point out, spices do not actually spoil. But when it comes to quality, the story is different. Over time, spices will lose their potency and not flavor your food as intended.

As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years, ground spices for about 3 to 4 years and dried leafy herbs for 1 to 3 years.  

To find out storage times for specific herbs and spices, you can consult our Keep It or Toss It database.


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