Does Chocolate Go Bad?

5 minute read

Chocolate Bar

One of the greatest pleasures in life is enjoying a bar of chocolate. It doesn’t matter how old or young a person is, because the one thing we all have in common is our love of confectionery. With so many flavours and brands to choose from, chocolate is one of those gifts that is sure to please the recipient. 

While most people enjoy buying and consuming chocolate, many don’t know much about the ingredients, manufacturing process and how to store chocolate correctly. Most importantly, few know if chocolate goes bad or if it lasts for years. 

In this post, we’ll unearth the truth behind chocolate and expiration dates, as well as look at some techniques you can use to keep your confectionery fresh. 

What Are Expiry Dates?

To understand how long chocolate lasts, we need to explore the two most common labels you’ll find on food packets in the UK - ‘best before’ and ‘use by’. Best before and use by dates are often thought of as the same thing, but there’s one distinct difference you should be aware of. 

Best before means that the food and drink you consume is of the highest quality before the date specified on the label. But use by means you should consume the food or drink before the date, or it could result in health consequences. 

Chocolate rarely has a use by date, and most brands will display a best before label on their packaging.

How Long Does Chocolate Last?

Chocolate Candies

So you’ve been doing your annual spring clean and come across an old bag of chocolate. Can you eat it? Well, to understand if chocolate goes bad, we need to look at many factors such as the type of chocolate, how it’s stored and when it officially expired. 

In general, unopened chocolate is ok to eat past the date specified on the packaging. Storing the candy at room temperature or in the fridge doesn’t make much of a difference in your chocolate quality, but you should always try to eat it within the expiration date. 

While chocolate doesn’t necessarily go bad and consuming it past the expiration date, the taste and texture won’t be as good. 

How your chocolate tastes past its best before date depends on the type you eat. Let’s look at the different chocolates available and how long they might last. 

White Chocolate 

White chocolate is known for its creamy taste and texture, but some people find it too rich. Because of the sugar and milk content, white chocolate is the most unreliable when it comes to best before dates. 

In general, unopened white chocolate will last for around six months after the best before date, but if it’s open, then you should half that time. 

Dark Chocolate 

Dark chocolate has a distinctive taste that many might find too overpowering, but it’s a healthy way to enjoy chocolate as it’s much lower in sugar and milk. Unopened dark chocolate will keep for around two years, but if it’s opened, then you should consume it within one year. 

Milk Chocolate 

Perhaps the most popular chocolate variety, milk chocolate is renowned for its creamy texture and subtle taste. If left unopened, your Dairy Milk or Galaxy will last for around a year. You have eight months to eat it if the wrapper is removed or torn. 

Baking Chocolate 

Baking chocolate (or cooks chocolate) has less sugar than other varieties and lower dairy content. You can store it unopened for up to two years before the quality is compromised. 

Cocoa Powder 

Cocoa powder doesn’t go bad as such, but you will notice it loses quality the longer you leave it. If left unopened, your powder will last for approximately three years. Opened cocoa powder will be sufficient for a maximum of two years before it begins to taste funny. 

Chocolate Chips 

While baking chocolate has a long shelf life, chocolate chips are slightly different. They’ll last unopened for two to four months, but if you’re using them for cookie dough, they’re good for up to two years. 

Belgian Chocolate 

There’s nothing quite like Belgian chocolate, is there? It’s a high-end form of confectionery with a velvety texture. The thing about this type of chocolate is it won’t last long at all. You need to consume it within two weeks. 

If you want to make it last longer, you can freeze the chocolate for up to two months. Handmade chocolates and truffles have the same shelf life, so always be prepared to devour them or freeze them. 

How Can I Tell If Chocolate Is Going Bad?

Other than the best before date, there are some telltale signs that chocolate is losing its quality. Knowing what they are can save your tastebuds the displeasure of sampling bitter chocolate. 

Cracks or Dots: If you begin to notice cracks or dots on your chocolate, it’s a sign that you should think about throwing it away. 

White Spots/Discolouration: You should never eat chocolate that shows signs of discolouration because it’s a sign that the fat and sugar are separating from the cocoa. Sugar and fat blooming are common issues, and while the chocolate is still safe to consume, it won’t taste good. 

The Best Ways to Store Your Chocolate

Plastic containers

Now you know that chocolate doesn’t necessarily go bad, but time will impact its taste. You can make sure any chocolate you purchase lasts longer by storing it correctly. Consistency is critical here, and it’s always best to store confectionery in a cool, dry place. 

Store open chocolate in an airtight container to preserve it for longer and leave it in the wrapper instead of using clingfilm. If you choose to freeze your chocolate, you can remove it from your freezer and let it thaw before consuming it. 

The Wrap Up 

There’s no reason not to take advantage of wholesale chocolate prices, because there are so many ways to preserve your stock. Following the simple steps, we mentioned in this article means you can supply your customers with high-quality chocolate without missing out on excellent wholesale chocolate offers from the UK’s leading confectionery suppliers.


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