Cooking Tips, Food Safety, Ingredient Quality

Does Food Coloring  Really Expire?

Apparently, most of you might have a box stored with mini bottles of food coloring in your kitchen — red, yellow, green, orange, and so on…

Merely a drop would be enough into your frosting or cookie dough. But while using it, we might wonder does food coloring really expire.


Most food colorings don’t include any key ingredients that can spoil or go moldy, allowing them unspecified durability if properly stored. So you can use it as long as it’s not dried out, smell funny, or changed color.

Various food colors include powder, paste, liquid, gel, etc.

Food Colors are used in decorating cakes, making candies, concentrated drinks, gelatin desserts, and various other colorful food and drink items we come across usually.

How long does food coloring last?

If you notice even a slight change in the texture or consistency of food color, stop using it immediately since it’s not healthy anymore.

For example: In Gel-based food colors, if the gelatin is all dried up or becomes harder, it’s a sign that it is rotten. Similarly, for a liquid food coloring, the consistency of the liquid gets thicker or soaked.

Artificial Food dyes contain no raw elements that can be dangerous. They are so concentrated that they can be utilized for a long time. Just make sure to tighten the bottle caps after every use.

You can go through all the information provided below to easily know if your food coloring has become useless or the tips and tricks to use them for a long period.

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Liquids often turn concentrated or gel-like when they get spoiled. To use them for a longer duration, put a few drops of hot water with a little stir to get a water-like consistency so that it could be used again.

  • 2. Gel-Based Food Coloring 

They can turn hard or dry out if it is not properly stored once it’s fully dried; it’s better to buy a new one.

Powdered form of the food color is perfect for long-term storage as it cannot dry out. Close the lids or caps tightly after every use.

Homemade things are chemical-free, last long, and have merely any side effects. So why not make food color at home? Since you will be using ingredients like turmeric, beetroot, blueberries, cabbage, spinach, etc., the food color can last for 2 weeks if you keep them refrigerated.

To make sure your food coloring lasts for the long term, you will want to make sure

  • Seal the container after the use as air can dry out the liquid, paste, and gel food colorings.
  • ‌Shift the food color into an airtight container.
  • If something falls into it mistakenly, don’t use your fingers to take that out
  • Use a different spoon every time you use the food color.
  • Do not keep the food color bottle in front of heat or sunlight.

You can store them at 65-85 degrees room temperature, requiring no refrigeration.

As per the FDA, every consumable product should have an expiry date to avoid health hazards. But that doesn’t mean it suddenly becomes poisonous or dangerous.

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Expiration dates help with inventory control, so a store will sell the older stock first. But if you store them properly, they won’t expire. However, artificial food colors cause serious side effects, such as hyperactivity in children, cancer, and allergies.

Follow the steps above for storing the food dyes for a lifetime.

Although it sounds foolish, food manufacturers still have to print expiry dates on consumer products due to various legalities.

It’s like a precaution one takes to avoid such situations. So for those who strictly follow the expiry dates can buy a new one to avoid any dilemma on using it. Still, that doesn’t give a sure-shot answer to throw them away just because it’s passed the expiry date. One can use it if it’s in good condition; the rest choice is yours.

This is because the usage of food colors is quite minimal and not quite often. So if you want to use it after some time and find out that it’s expired, yet in a proper condition, you can use it. Otherwise, you would have to buy a new one every time you want to use it, keeping in mind that you don’t use it regularly.

Researchers cannot find any link between specific food colors and their behavior. Until now, no such study has claimed the above statement.

Synthetic Food dyes are made of chemicals and contain zero ingredients that can harm or affect anybody. Therefore the above statement is still not proven.

The Food and Drug Administration continues its tests on yellow food coloring. Still, it is claimed that we have no immediaaate or short-term hazard of comsuming it.

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Most food colors don’t have an expiry date; if they do, that’s just because some legal guidelines do not sell any outdated and stale food products in the market. To ensure a long duration of the food colors, keep them away from heat and store them in an airtight bottle or containers.

Natural homemade food colors can last for 2 weeks only if kept in a refrigerator because they are made from natural ingredients. To know till when you can use the dye is by mentioning a label of the date of preparing it. 

If you follow the above instructions, you can store the dye for an everlasting period until you notice any changes in its appearance. Then, make your recipes attractive and interesting with these refreshing and beautiful food dyes.

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