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Do Edibles Expire, Go Bad, Or Lose Their Potency?

A baffled stoner in a green hoodie questions edibles about how long they last before going bad.
EST. READING TIME: 15 Minutes
EST. READING TIME: 15 Minutes

What is the shelf life of your edibles? This article targets three important questions; Do edibles expire? Do THC Gummies go bad? And Do edible gummies lose their potency over time? Get the answers to the FAQs, learn the 7 factors that affect the shelf life of edibles, and tips for best edible storage practice.

When do edibles go bad? Continue reading to find out!

Table of Contents

This article delves explicitly into whether or not edibles and THC gummies expire, how long they last until they go bad, and what happens to them over time.

If you’ve landed here hoping to figure out how long the effects of edibles last, check out my other article, How Long Do Edibles Last?

Let’s get started!

Here are FAQs before we dive deep into the facts.

A baffled stoner in a green hoodie questions edibles about how long they last before going bad.
A baffled stoner in a green hoodie questions edibles about how long they last before going bad.

FAQ

 

Can edible gummies go bad?

Edible gummies can last for a long time, typically 6 months to a year or more, but their recipes can affect their expiration dates. They can go bad eventually, so it’s important to check for changes in smell or appearance.

 

How Long Before Edibles Lose Their Potency?

Generally, edibles can maintain their THC potency for a year if stored properly. However, beyond that, the cannabinoids in them will start to degrade, resulting in a loss of potency.

 

Are weed edibles still safe after 2 years?

After two years, edibles would NOT be safe for consumption unless they were consistently stored at freezing temperatures. However, the THC and CBD infused in the edibles (specifically) may still be safe, though their effectiveness will be impacted.

 

How can you tell if edibles have expired?

Expired edibles may have a different smell or appearance than when they were fresh. Oxygen can also impact the degradation of cannabis edibles, so it’s essential to store them properly.

 

What’s the best way to store edibles so they don’t go bad?

  1. Use airtight containers: Keep your edibles in containers with tight-fitting lids to protect them from exposure to air, moisture, and contaminants.

  2. Store in a cool, dark place: Keep your edibles away from direct sunlight and heat sources, as they can cause cannabinoids to degrade and affect the edibles’ potency. A cool, dark place like a cupboard or pantry is ideal.

  3. Keep edibles in the refrigerator or freezer: For perishable edibles like baked goods, storing them in the refrigerator or freezer can prolong their freshness by slowing down mold and bacteria growth. Make sure to wrap them well to prevent freezer burn and absorption of other food odors.

  4. Label and date your edibles: Keep track of when you purchased or made the edibles and their best-before dates to ensure you consume them while they’re still fresh and potent.

  5. Separate different types of edibles: Store different edibles separately, as some may have stronger smells that can affect the taste or aroma of other edibles.

 
 

Should edible gummies be stored in the fridge?

Storing edible gummies in the refrigerator can extend their shelf life by 1 to 2 weeks. If you don’t plan to consume them soon, consider freezing them for an even longer shelf life.

 

What happens if edibles aren’t refrigerated?

Some edibles, like hard candies and gummies, can last long without refrigeration or freezing. Gummies may lose their chewiness but are unlikely to spoil.

 

How should you store opened edibles?

Opened hard candies can last up to a year, while soft candies last 6-9 months. Store them in an airtight jar or edible packaging in a cool environment.

 

What’s the best way for long-term storage of edible gummies?

For the best way to store edible gummies long-term, follow these steps:

  1. Wrap your THC gummies in parchment paper and place them in a zip-lock bag.

  2. Squeeze all the air from the zip lock bag and seal it closed.

  3. Place the ziplock bag into an airtight container.

  4. Place the airtight container in the freezer.

 
 

Do THC gummies expire?

According to FDA hemp product manufacturing guidelines, Cannabis gummy manufacturers are allowed to have an expiration date of up to 1 year after the third-party potency lab test was conducted. However, this suggested expiry date is mainly due to cannabinoid degradation rather than actual spoiling.

 

Can edible gummies be frozen to extend their shelf life?

While the taste and overall effectiveness may be at risk, the answer is Yes. Any food stored at 0 degrees Fareheight will last indefinitely.

A puzzled cannabis enthusiast juggles several types of edibles.
A puzzled cannabis enthusiast juggles several types of edibles.

What are Edibles?

Edibles are food products infused with cannabis. They contain various compounds from the cannabis plant, like THC, CBD, or a mix of both. These compounds can have different effects on your body and mind.

 

Types of Edibles

Beverages:

  • Cannabis-infused drinks: These can include sodas, teas, coffee, or even alcohol-free cocktails.

  • Drink Powders & Syrups: Add these products to water or other beverages to create THC-infused drinks.

 

Baked goods:

  • Brownies: A classic edible choice, these chocolaty treats often contain THC or CBD.

  • Cookies: Another popular option, cannabis-infused cookies come in various flavors and cannabinoid concentrations.

  • Cakes and pastries: Cannabis-infused cakes, muffins, or even donuts can be a fun and tasty way to consume cannabinoids.

 

Candies:

  • Lollipops and Hard candies: These long-lasting sweets can contain THC, CBD, or a mix of both.

  • Chocolate: Cannabis-infused chocolate bars or truffles can satisfy your sweet tooth and offer the desired effects.

 

Oils:

  • Tinctures: These concentrated liquid extracts can be added to food or drinks or taken under the tongue for fast absorption.

  • Liquid Capsules: Cannabis oil-filled capsules offer a discreet and controlled way to consume cannabinoids, with a consistent dose in each capsule.

 

Types of Edible Gummies: CBD, Weed, and Hemp THC Gummies

Gummies are the most popular form of “weedibles”; they’re either gelatin or fruit pectic-based confections that come in various shapes, sizes, flavors, and cannabinoid concentrations.

  • CBD gummies: These gummies focus on CBD, a non-psychotropic compound. They won’t get you “high” but may help with relaxation, pain relief, or anxiety.

  • Weed gummies: These gummies contain THC, the psychoactive and psychotropic compound responsible for the “high” feeling, and the cannabinoids are derived from a marijuana plant, which makes them federally illegal unless you have a medical marijuana card.

  • Hemp THC gummies: These THC gummies are practically identical to weed gummies, but they are federally legal as the cannabinoids are derived from industrial hemp plants and are under 0.3% Delta-9 THC.

Classic food auditor with clipboard tries to decides which edibles have expired.
Classic food auditor with clipboard tries to decides which edibles have expired.

Do Edibles Go Bad or Expire?

Like any food product, edibles can go bad or expire over a certain amount of time. The shelf life of edibles depends on various factors that either impact the freshness or the potency of the cannabinoids and terpenes within.

 

7 Key Factors That Affect The Shelf Life of Edibles

 

1. Ingredients

The ingredients used in infused gummies can significantly impact their shelf life.

THC gummies made with organic and natural ingredients, such as fruit juices or purees, may have a shorter shelf life than those made with artificial flavors and preservatives.

  • Baked goods: Ingredients in baked goods usually have a shorter shelf life because they contain perishable ingredients like eggs and cannabutter. They typically last for about a week if properly stored.

  • Hard candies and gummies: These edibles last longer, from several months to a year, because they are less prone to spoilage.

  • Oils and tinctures: Edible oils and tinctures can have a longer shelf life, sometimes up to two years, if stored in a cool, dark place.

 

2. The Overall Quality

The quality of your edibles can also impact their shelf life:

  • High-quality edibles: These edibles are made with better ingredients and more refined production processes, which can lead to longer shelf life.

  • Low-quality edibles: These edibles may contain inferior ingredients or be poorly made, leading to a shorter shelf life and a faster loss of potency.

 

3. Storage Temperature

Temperature plays a vital role in determining the shelf life of THC-infused food products. Keeping gummies at a consistent, cool temperature can help prevent mold and bacteria growth, ensuring they stay fresh for an extended period.

 

4. Humidity

Humidity can cause gummies to become sticky, lose their shape, or even develop mold. Store your infused gummies in a cool, dry place with low humidity levels to avoid these issues.

 

5. Exposure to Light

Exposure to light, especially sunlight, can degrade the cannabinoids in your infused gummies. Store your gummies in a dark place or use opaque containers to protect them from light exposure.

 

6. Exposure to Oxygen

When edibles are exposed to oxygen, oxidation can occur, which may lead to the breakdown of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, reducing their potency.

Oxygen can also promote the growth of mold and bacteria, which can spoil the edibles and make them unsafe to consume.

 

7. Packaging

The packaging of your infused gummies can also affect their shelf life. Choose airtight, opaque packaging that seals well to keep your gummies fresh and potent for as long as possible.

A satirical photo of a thc edible funeral for an expired thc gummy.
A satirical photo of a thc edible funeral for an expired thc gummy.

How Long Do Edibles Last Before They Expire?

According to an Excel spreadsheet created by the FDIS (Food Safety Inspection Service), a U.S. Department of Agriculture, they’ve classified “Fruit Gummy Snacks” and their expiration dates as follows:

  • ID: 380

  • Category: 23

  • Pantry Shelf Life: 6-9 months

Here are a few things to take away from the FSIS recommendation:

  1. The ingredients of the fruit gummy snack are not mentioned, and some ingredients, like honey, last much longer than others.

  2. This is strictly based on shelf life while storing in the pantry.

Edible gummy bear posing as a reporter shares pertinent information.
Edible gummy bear posing as a reporter shares pertinent information.

Going Bad vs. Cannabinoid Potency Loss

It’s essential to distinguish between spoilage (expiring) and cannabinoid potency loss when it comes to edibles.

Going bad refers to food becoming unsafe or unpleasant to consume. At the same time, cannabinoid potency loss means the active cannabinoids (like THC or CBD) have degraded, converted to other cannabinoids, and overall, lost their effectiveness

A thc gummy bears goes rogue and joins the dark side.
A thc gummy bears goes rogue and joins the dark side.

Signs that Edibles Have Gone Bad

Here are some signs that your edibles may have gone bad:

  1. Unpleasant smell: If your edibles start to stink, it indicates they have gone bad.

  2. Mold: Visible mold growth on edibles is a clear sign that they are no longer safe to consume.

  3. Texture changes: If your edibles become too hard, soft, or sticky, it may indicate spoilage.

The potency of edible gummies slowly fade away like marty mcfly's family in back to the future.
The potency of edible gummies slowly fade away like marty mcfly's family in back to the future.

Cannabinoid Degradation

As stated, Cannabinoids are sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen. Over time, exposure to any of the elements can cause cannabinoids to break down into other cannabinoids and lose their potency, also known as Cannabinoid Degradation.

Exposure to light seems to be the strongest accelerant to the loss of cannabinoids in general, but oxygen is the public enemy #1 for THC.

Long periods of exposure to oxygen will convert THC into another cannabinoid known as Cannabinol (CBN), and this conversion from THC to CBN reduces the effects of THC.

If you want to slow down the degradation process, follow the tips in the next section.

College professor lecturing on edible expiration and best storage practices to an eager audience.
College professor lecturing on edible expiration and best storage practices to an eager audience.

Tips for Storing Cannabis Edibles

1. Keep Edibles in an Airtight Container

Storing cannabis edibles in an airtight container is crucial for maintaining their freshness and potency. Airtight containers prevent air and moisture from entering, which can cause your edibles to spoil or lose potency over time.

2. Keep Edibles Out of the Sun

Sunlight can negatively affect the potency of your cannabis edibles. UV rays can break down cannabinoids like THC and CBD, causing them to degrade. Keep your edibles in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to ensure they maintain their potency.

3. Keep Edibles in the Fridge or Freezer

Storing edibles in the fridge or freezer can help prolong their shelf life. Cold temperatures slow down mold and bacteria growth, keeping your edibles fresh for a longer period. Just wrap your edibles well to prevent freezer burn or absorption of other food odors.

4. Proper Storage Techniques to Ensure Freshness

To keep your cannabis edibles fresh and potent, follow these simple storage tips:

A fully stocked pantry from top to bottom, full of thc gummies in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
A fully stocked pantry from top to bottom, full of thc gummies in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Extending the Shelf Life of Edibles

Can You Freeze Edibles?

Yes, you can freeze edibles to extend their shelf life. Freezing edibles can help preserve their freshness, potency, and overall quality. However, it’s essential to follow proper freezing techniques:

  • Wrap edibles in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

  • Place wrapped edibles in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags.

  • Label containers with the date and type of edibles.

  • Store in the freezer away from strong-smelling foods.

A cannabis cookie makes a daring escape from the icy cold freezer.
A cannabis cookie makes a daring escape from the icy cold freezer.

Best Ways to Extend Edible Shelf Life

There are several methods to extend the shelf life of your edibles and maintain their freshness and potency:

  1. Store edibles in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight

  2. Keep edibles in airtight containers to protect them from exposure to air and moisture.

  3. Use silica gel packets or other moisture-absorbing materials to prevent humidity-related degradation.

  4. Separate different types of edibles, as some may have stronger smells or ingredients that can affect other edibles.

  5. Food that is always stored at 0 °F will stay safe forever, according to the FSIS. Storing at this temperature slows down the tiny microbes in food, making all bacteria and germs go to sleep and not grow.

A hot and steamy pile of moldy weed brownies.
A hot and steamy pile of moldy weed brownies.

When To Throw Away Your Edibles

Consider Best-Before Dates

When storing your cannabis edibles, paying attention to their best-before dates is essential. These dates share how long the edibles are expected to maintain their freshness and potency. To ensure the best experience:

  • Check the packaging for the best-before date

  • Keep track of when you purchased the edibles

  • Consume the edibles before the best-before date to ensure optimal freshness and potency

 

When It’s Time to Replace Your Edibles

Knowing when to replace your edibles is crucial for both your safety and enjoyment. Signs that it’s time to replace your edibles include:

  • Unusual smells or textures

  • Mold or discoloration

  • Loss of potency or effectiveness

  • Edibles past their best-before date

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to dispose of the edibles and replace them with fresh ones.

A red translucent edible gummy bear calculates the risk of eating expired edibles.
A red translucent edible gummy bear calculates the risk of eating expired edibles.

Eating Expired Edibles

It is NOT recommended; food poisoning is the worst. You should always check the gummies for expiration dates, signs of spoilage, mold, off smell, or changes in texture before consuming them to be on the safe side.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Gummy Edibles?

If you eat a gummy after the recommended consumption period, you might experience any of the following outcomes:

  1. No effects: The potency may have decreased to the point where you don’t feel any effects.

  2. Weaker effects: The potency might have been reduced, resulting in a less potent experience than expected.

  3. Spoilage: If the gummies have spoiled, you could experience digestive issues or food poisoning symptoms.

A tense scene of a judge's gavel about to decide the fate of a line-up of edibles.
A tense scene of a judge's gavel about to decide the fate of a line-up of edibles.

Final Verdict: Do Edibles Go Bad?

Yes, edibles do expire. Like any other food product, they have a shelf life that depends on ingredients, storage conditions, and packaging.

Disallowing the growth of microbes and bacteria through freezing is the best way to increase the shelf life of any food product. However, you may sacrifice taste if you freeze for a long period of time.

What To Take Away

As edibles age, they can lose their cannabinoid potency, so to ensure the best experience, it’s essential to store them in a cool, dark place, in airtight containers, away from direct sunlight, and consume them within their best-before date.

Follow these guidelines to prolong the life and potency of your edibles so you can enjoy your cannabis-infused goodies for as long as possible.

Do you have any additional tips or tricks for keeping edibles fresh?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!

References

Authoritative Sources

  1. Edibles: How to Make Cannabis-Infused Edibles: Healthline provides a detailed overview of cannabis edibles and the different types of edibles.
  2. A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans: This study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology provides an overview of the pharmacokinetics of CBD, which can be helpful in understanding how long it may remain active in edibles.
  3. Cannabinoid Stability in Cannabis-Infused Edible Products: This research article investigates the stability of cannabinoids in various types of cannabis-infused edible products, providing valuable information on their shelf life and potency over time.
  4. Effects of Edible Cannabis Products: A Systematic Review This systematic review published in the National Library of Medicine examines the effects of edible cannabis products, with a focus on the duration and intensity of their psychoactive effects.
  5. US National Library of Medicine: Stability of Cannabinoids in Dried Samples of Cannabis This study investigates the stability of cannabinoids in dried samples of cannabis and how storage conditions can affect the potency of the cannabinoids.
  6. United States Department of Agriculture – Food Safety and Inspection Service: The Big Thaw This USDA resource provides guidelines on safely defrosting food, which can be applied to cannabis edibles to ensure proper thawing and avoid spoilage.
  7. University of Washington: Cannabis Potency and Shelf Life: This document from the University of Washington provides information on cannabis potency and the factors that influence the shelf life of cannabis products, including edibles.

 

Anecdotal Evidence

  1. How Long Do Edibles Last? Shelf Life & Storage Tips: Leafly, a respected cannabis website, offers advice on the shelf life of edibles and storage tips to keep them fresh and potent.
  2. Leafly: Do Cannabis Edibles Expire? Here’s What You Should Know Leafly, a leading cannabis information website, provides insights into the shelf life of cannabis edibles, how to store them properly, and what happens when they expire.
  3. High Times: Here’s How Long Your THC-Infused Edibles Will Last High Times, a well-respected cannabis publication, discusses the shelf life of THC-infused edibles, factors that can impact their longevity, and how to store them properly.
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