Five reasons to check the expiration dates on cat food

Cat eating food

Pet owners are understandably worried about the safety and quality of the food they provide to their four-legged family members when firms issue recalls on and dog foods. There is debate about whether or not it is dangerous to provide pet food after the indicated expiration date.

Although pet food manufacturers are not obligated to include "Best By" or "expiration" dates on their packaging in the United States, many do so to let customers and retailers know how long they can guarantee the promised quality of their goods. The length of time that these wet and dry pet meals may be stored past the suggested "use by" dates on the container depends on a number of factors, including deterioration and packaging strength.

However, just because a box of dry or wet cat food has passed its expiration date doesn't always indicate it's hazardous. Instead, keep an eye out for certain potential issues with the food, such as decreased nutritional value, contamination, spoilage, and decaying preservatives. Here's how to spot these typical issues with pet food that has reached the end of its shelf life.

Nutritional Quality

The length of time the producer can guarantee the nutritional qualities it offers on its nutritional facts label is the definition of a pet food's shelf life, which varies significantly depending on the brand and kind of food (whether it is wet or dry).

However, just because a can or bag of food is older doesn't always indicate that it has gone bad or lost much of its nutritional value. You should definitely avoid depending on goods that are many months over their suggested "Best By" date.

The natural breakdown of preservatives and lipids may have caused the food to lose part of its nutritional value even if it hasn't been opened, doesn't smell bad, or shows any symptoms of contamination. If you continue to feed your pet this kind of food, it may cause nutritional deficits that pose major long-term health hazards.


Packaging for pet food is intended to guard against contamination, however certain varieties are more prone to issues than others. Permeable packaging poses a danger of exposing food to moisture, pests, mildew, and other pathogens; this risk is especially high for biodegradable packaging.

Before feeding food to your cats, always be sure to examine it for vermin, mildew, and other toxins that might make your cat ill. This is true even before the "Best By" date, but to prevent giving your pet tainted food, you should specifically look out for warning indications like a "odd" scent or discolouration.

Fat and Spoilage

Fat is present in pet food because it is necessary for cats, but even in dry food, it can deteriorate with time. Of fact, smelling a meal does not necessarily indicate its quality; many pet foods, particularly wet cat diets, have a very strong odor.

But if you're used to a certain brand or kind of food, you could notice that the product smells a little strange, especially if you're seeking for it because it's past its suggested shelf life. Although it is unlikely that canned food would go bad after the "Best By" date, the shelf life of canned food is just one year after creation.

Degrading of Preservatives

Although preservatives are meant to help keep cat food fresh, they can eventually lose their effectiveness. As a result, they are no longer able to stop microbial development, mold growth, or deterioration.

Some pet meals don't include preservatives, but if your brand does, you should attempt to consume it before the suggested shelf life has passed to make sure the preservatives are still working.

The "Best By" or "Use By" dates are most important in foods that contain preservatives because that's typically how a company will gauge its product's shelf life.

True Meaning of Package Dates

Food markets and grocery stores are not prohibited by federal law from selling items that have passed their designated "Best By" dates. However, most retailers do have procedures requiring the disposal of these goods once they have beyond the designated shelf life. If a batch is close over its "Best By" date, they frequently sell overstocked products on discount.

This rule does not apply to fresh food, which is a bit of a luxury good and may have a real expiration date. However, unless otherwise stated, packaged goods like canned and dry pet meals don't truly have "expiration dates" at all.

The sole federal rule that requires this kind of labeling says that if a meal is to be dated, the date must also be accompanied with a label that is crystal clear about what that date means. The "Best By" date is typically posted by businesses since that is the length of time they can guarantee the quality of the goods they have promised. However, this is in no way a reliable method for determining whether or not the product has gone bad.


"Nutritional Deficiencies in Cats. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.", "Food Product Dating. United States Department of Agriculture." ;