Like anything else sold for human consumption in the United States, energy drinks have expiration dates printed prominently on their labeling or the bottle/can directly.
Energy drinks don’t necessarily “go bad” on the day of the expiration date. They may lose flavor and color and are generally safe to consume if they are properly stored and unopened.
In the rest of this detailed guide, we run through what you need to know about consuming expired energy drinks, the safety of drinking energy drinks beyond that date, whether or not these drinks can expire in the first place, and so much more.
Can You Drink Expired Energy Drinks?
Straight out of the gate, you should know that there’s rarely anything wrong with drinking energy drinks, even a couple of months past the expiration date printed on the can.
The US federal government requires all food and drinks sold to the public to have an expiration date printed on that product’s package, container, or label.
This expiration date often coincides with the shelf life of perishable items. Still, in several cases (like with canned goods, water, and energy drinks that stay “fresh” for years), the expiration date is there to give the companies producing and selling those products legal protection.
Your energy drink will taste the best within the first 6 to 9 months of it being produced, that’s for sure. But it isn’t going to be unsafe to consume in most circumstances for at least a couple of months beyond that expiration date – usually a year out from its bottling.
Do Energy Drinks Expire?
Energy drinks do technically “expire,” – but that’s not usually going to happen for at least two years past the actual production date.
What does this mean, though?
Are these drinks dangerous to consume two years after being bottled or canned (usually a year beyond their printed expiration date)?
Not in most circumstances!
While the ingredients that give the energy boost in these drinks might start to lose their potency or effectiveness after two years, that doesn’t mean that these drinks become unsafe or dangerous to consume.
You might not get quite as much of a buzz drinking older energy drinks, but you’re not going to be risking your health or wellness unless something goes wrong with that product.
How Long Will Opened Energy Drinks Stay Good For?
Okay, we’ve squared that away – what about energy drinks that have been opened?
- How long are they going to stay fresh?
- How long until they start to lose their energy-boosting properties?
- Can you extend the life of these opened energy drinks?
For one thing, you can expect to get 2 to 4 days of “life” out of a freshly opened but not consumed energy drink – so long as you keep it in the refrigerator.
Carbonated energy drinks might go flat overnight and lose potency after a few days.
Again, you’re not going to notice any real flavor changes or negative impacts from drinking these flatter beverages. Still, you will notice that the energy-boosting effects just aren’t quite as strong as a “fresh canned” would have been.
Even still, you’re not going to want that energy drink to go further than four or five days in the fridge. It will be flat, and the taste will differ from a freshly opened can. It’s just not worth it anymore.
Do All Energy Drinks Need to Be Refrigerated?
Energy drinks do not need to be refrigerated straight from the factory or from the store.
The canning process gives these energy drinks a fantastic shelf life, a shelf life of anywhere between 18 months and 24 months – and that’s being left around in giant pallets, in huge unheated warehouses, and tucked away inside of home pantries, too.
Some people like to refrigerate their energy drinks to cool them down; there’s nothing wrong with that. The energy-boosting properties of these beverages, though, will be delivered regardless of whether or not you drink these at room temperature or after being refrigerated for a day or two.
The only time you need to refrigerate your energy drinks is when you’ve opened them but haven’t completely consumed the contents of the can.
Leave them out and open up; they’ll lose all of their energy-boosting properties and go flat at night. Stick them in the fridge, and they’ll taste just like fresh energy drinks – and still give you a jolt of juice – for a couple of days.
Are There Any Signs That an Energy Drink is No Good to Consume?
The easiest way to tell if an energy drink is no good to consume anymore is if it has an expiration date of three years or more in the past.
Then, all the energy-boosting properties within the drink formula will likely lose effectiveness. It will no longer be an energy drink at that point, so it’s best to toss it out and grab another.
Secondly, any obvious signs of damage or corrosion on the can are a sign that you shouldn’t even consider consuming older energy drinks.
Rusty tops, filthy cans, dents, or punctures are all signs that you should swap that energy drink out for a fresh one ASAP.
Lastly, if you do end up popping the top on a recent “expired” energy drink, and it smells off or looks different than you’re expecting, it’s a good idea to be safe rather than sorry and just pitch that liquid down the drain.
Reflection – Should Expired Energy Drinks Be Consumed?
At the end of the day, there’s (usually) nothing wrong with drinking an energy drink for at least a couple of months beyond the expiration date printed on the can.
For example, if you have an energy drink that expired in March but was stuck in your pantry until July, you’re not running any risk drinking that can the same way you would a fresh one from a grocery or convenience store.
As always, there’s no reason not to err on the side of caution and only consume energy drinks within the expiration window or just a couple of days beyond.
It all comes down to what you are comfortable with!
Just know that the expiration date on these cans of energy drinks isn’t quite as important to follow in the letter as expiration dates on things like beef, chicken, fish, cheese, and dairy products.
You’ve got about two years (and maybe a little bit longer) to drink these without worry. Just make sure they haven’t been sitting around that long openned.
References and Citations
The Federal Register. Federal Register :: Request Access. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-21/chapter-I/subchapter-B/part-101
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