Yes, all probiotics have expiry dates and can also go bad if you don’t store them properly. But there’s more.
Next, in the article, I will discuss how you can tell that a probiotic has gone bad and if you can use these supplements after expiration.
So, keep reading to find out what happens to probiotics after expiration;
Are Expired Probiotics Bad?
Usually, No. If you have properly stored probiotics, they will be fine even after expiration. When you keep probiotics air-tight and moisture-free, the chances of harmful microbial growth are minimized. Resultantly, expired probiotics tablets look as good as the new ones.
But after expiration, these pills would have a few to none live strains. To check if your probiotics have some amount of live bacteria left, use the milk test;
- Mix probiotics in a glass of milk.
- Leave it for 24 hours at room temperature.
- If the milk doesn’t curd or form clumps, the product has lost all the viable bacteria.
Still, using probiotics after expiry (even if they look good and viable) is not recommended, as explained below;
Is it OK to Take Expired Probiotics?
No, you should not take expired probiotics because they are ineffective.
Probiotics are live bacterial and yeast strains packed in powdered or encapsulated forms, with the addition of little to no microbial food. And like any other living organism, without a consistent food supply, these microbes die after a certain time.
As a result, the longer a probiotic stays on the shelf, the lesser its efficacy is. About a 5-10% decrease in effectiveness is estimated every month.
Thus, a freshly manufactured probiotic pill is more effective than the same pill 3 months past the manufacturing date.
Until the expiry date, most of the bacteria would have died. So, using probiotics past the expiration date would not provide the results you are looking for.
Side Effects of Expired Probiotics
As far as side effects are concerned, no case studies have proven that expired probiotics are harmful. Yet researchers suggest that it’s better that you don’t use probiotics out of date because their safety level is not assured by research.
This is the case if you have expired probiotics powders or tablets that show no sign of damage like the foul smell or mold growth.
But in case your supplement is giving off a stingy smell or a change in coloration or texture, you should stop taking it as it is likely spoiled due to moisture or fungal activity.
What’s the Shelf Life of Probiotics?
Probiotics usually remain viable for a year or two from the date of manufacture. However, the shelf life may vary depending upon the type of supplement you are using and the pill formulation and packaging technologies as well.
Probiotic beverages have shorter shelf life than dried supplements. Among dry products, powdered probiotics expire sooner than tablets.
The shelf life of probiotics also depends upon the strains it contains.
Similarly, resistive encapsulation material and the addition of prebiotic fiber tend to improve the stability of probiotic pills.
A scientific report confirms that the addition of prebiotic fibers like inulin and fructo-oligosaccharide enhances the shelf life of probiotic foods and drugs. Results show that synbiotic products are less affected by fungal agents.
Probiotics Strains and Their Expiration
- Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains remain viable for almost two years when stored at room temperature and humidity.
- Bacillus strains are more resistant to environmental pressures like temperature and humidity changes compared to Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
Its long-lasting viability was proven in microbiology research performed to analyze the viability of probiotics for a space voyage to Mars.
The shelf life of Bacillus subtilis was up to 1722 days (4.7 years) under ambient conditions.
- Saccharomyces boulardii (yeast strains) can last up to one year when stored in a moisture-free space, as proven by research.
Do probiotics expire if refrigerated?
Yes, probiotics would expire even if refrigerated because refrigeration would not delay the expiration date of the probiotics.
As most bacterial strains are heat sensitive, storing your probiotics and fermented foods that contain probiotic strains (like milk, curd, cheese) in a refrigerator is generally recommended.
Especially Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium strains are advised to keep at 4⁰C. But the optimum temperature varies for each strain. Look at the packaging to find out the temperature requirement for storing probiotics.
However, this only helps to make probiotics last for the recommended duration and does not delay their expiration.
In other words, your probiotics are likely to expire sooner if you don’t refrigerate them, but they would still expire after the specified duration, even in the refrigerator.
Hence, if the expiry date of your probiotics has passed (whether you stored them in the fridge or your kitchen cabinet), it’s better to throw them off and get yourself a new pack of supplements to boost your health.
What Should I Do If I Take Expired probiotics?
Expired probiotics wouldn’t likely harm you. So, you need not worry if you accidentally take expired probiotics. However, if you experience any negative effects like nausea, diarrhea, or brain fog, immediately consult your physician.
How long are probiotics good for after the expiration date?
Generally speaking, probiotics are not much beneficial after expiry. Because the viability of probiotics decreases over time and till the expiry date, only a few strains are left alive.
Thus, expired probiotics are not harmful, but they do not provide health benefits anymore.
How long will probiotics last without refrigeration?
Some probiotics require refrigeration to maintain the activity of the bacterial cells. These can be kept without refrigeration only for two weeks.
In contrast, other probiotic products are shelf-stable and can be stored at room temperature, such as Biotics8.
Do dog probiotics expire?
Yes, dog probiotics contain living bacteria that are only beneficial up to the expiry date as up till then, most strains have died.
Generally, this expiration date is one to two years after the manufacturing date.
Can expired probiotics cause diarrhea?
No, expired probiotics do not cause diarrhea because their bacteria are mostly dead and cannot affect gut health.
Do probiotics go bad in the heat?
Yes, most probiotic bacterial strains are heat sensitive. Consequently, if these products are exposed to high temperatures, bacteria will die, making the probiotic ineffective.
Thus, you must store them in a dry place at the right temperature when taking probiotics because probiotics go bad if you do not store them carefully.
Probiotic supplements are a handy way to improve gut health, skin condition, and immune system.
However, these supplements do expire 1 or 1.5 years after their production.
NO adverse effect is reported from expired probiotic pills, but they certainly lose their efficacy after expiration. Due to a lack of scientific evidence, it cannot be guaranteed that probiotic strains won’t do any harm if you take them after expiry.
That is why you should avoid using expired probiotic powders or tablets to prevent an unpleasant experience.