Is It Dangerous To Eat Expired Potato Chips?

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We get it — modern foodies lead busy lives. Maybe you were able to enjoy a rare, languid movie night last weekend, binge-watching your favorite flicks and snacking on your favorite potato chips. But, now that the weekend is rolling around again (and that half-empty chip bag is still in your pantry), you might be wondering, are these still alright to eat? The short answer is "yes." But, there are a few factors to be aware of before you dig into a bag of expired chips.

A bag of commercially packaged, opened potato chips tends to maintain its quality for one to two weeks at room temperature. Many bags of chips are printed with a "sell by" date rather than a "use by" date. Sealed, a bag of chips can remain fresh for two or three weeks past the printed "sell by" expiration date.

Technically, even potato chips have the potential to carry Salmonella, but, in general, chips "expire" not by spoiling but by going stale. Chips get stale over time because the starch molecules in the potatoes begin to crystallize in the presence of water, which can be absorbed from the air or from the gluten molecules within the potatoes. The network of molecules in the potatoes changes as the starch molecules crystallize, and the result is a less snappy chip. In short, eating stale chips won't make you sick or pose any serious health risks, but it's kind of a drag.

Stale chips will hurt your spirit more than your stomach

To get the most out of your chips, keep them in a cool, dry space like a kitchen cabinet or pantry. If you've been storing your expired chips in a warm, damp environment (like above the oven, or potentially on top of the fridge), mold development isn't out of the question. Inspect those salty beauties thoroughly before diving in, checking out the odor, appearance, and flavor.

To keep 'em fresher longer, invest in a quality chip clip. The three-inch-wide stainless steel chip clips from House Again cover a larger surface area and impart a heavy-duty seal — more effective than pinching the middle shut with a clothespin, or simply rolling the top of the bag up. For an even more thorough seal, GripStic creates a tight closure by sliding across the entire width of the bag. You can also seal chips with the bag itself using this nifty folding trick.

The presence of heat helps reverse starch molecule crystallization. You can easily revive stale chips by popping them in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up. But, if your salty snack is past saving, eliminate food waste and breathe new life into your expired chips. Crush them up and use them as a flavorful crunchy topping for baked mac and cheese or tuna noodle casserole. Or, for a double-potato hit, incorporate them into Cheesy Funeral Potatoes (there's an "expired" joke to be made somewhere in there).