Can Expired M&Ms Make You Sick?

M&Ms. The world famous multi-colored shelled buttons of delicious chocolate. When aren’t these good to eat? You can eat them in the evening, in the morning, or any time of the day. And any time of the year. But nothing lasts forever, you know. Candy included.

This means that M&Ms do, in fact, have an expiry date. A point from which their makers advise you not to eat them and perhaps stick them in the trash instead.

Is this the absolute, non-negotiable deadline? Or is it just a guideline from the folks who produce M&Ms?

Perhaps you’ve got a pack of M&Ms that has passed its expiry date, and you’re wondering if they’re still good to eat. Will they make you sick? Time to reveal all. 

So, can expired M&Ms make you sick? Expired M&Ms are unlikely to make you sick because they are a candy that can last a long time after their stated expiry date. M&Ms, on average, can last up to a year after their stated expiry date if stored properly. But they can last even longer in some circumstances.

As M&Ms are still good well after their expiration date, you can safely eat them after this time without getting sick.

Great news, I’d imagine.

But why is it okay to eat out of date M&Ms? Let’s find out and answer those other questions you likely have, shall we?

Is It Okay To Eat Out-of-date M&Ms?

It is okay to eat out-of-date M&Ms because they can last much longer than the expiry date stated on their packaging. 

A lot of expired candy has been reported to carry microbes.

If you eat these, then they can make you sick.


And this is a big, however, hence why I wrote it in capitals.

Expired candy usually carries these microbes because something entered the candy before the packaging was sealed on the factory line.

So getting sick from eating expired candy can happen in rare instances.

Now, onto our candy of the day, M&Ms.

If stored properly, M&Ms can last for years, well beyond their stated expiry date. We’ll talk more about the best storage for M&Ms later.

Generally, though, most M&Ms will last a maximum of one year beyond their expiry date, also known as the best-by or best-before date.

As they can last well past their expiry date, it is, therefore, okay to eat them after this time.

How long these M&Ms will last will depend on the storage environment, as we know, but it will also depend on the type of M&Ms you have.

Because remember, M&Ms come in different forms and ranges adapted and created by their candy makers.

Now, you might be sitting there, reading this, thinking, ‘why do M&Ms put an expiry date on the packaging when their products are still edible for much longer after this time.’ 

Well, I don’t think it is an intentional strategy to get you to keep buying more M&Ms.

For some foods, an expiry date should definitely be adhered to. An example of a food where this is the case is any meat products you may buy.

But for M&Ms, this date is more about advising you to eat them before this date because that is when they are at their best.

So, this is supposedly when M&Ms are of the highest quality for eating. 

After this date, the quality of the M&Ms might not be as good. But they are still fine to eat without you getting sick.

The longer M&Ms are left, the more their quality will degrade.

But once again, remember this, they are still safe to eat after this date.

How Long Are M&Ms Good For After The Expiration Date?

It will vary for how long M&Ms are good for after their expiration date. Generally, it’s for about a year, but they can last up to 18 months. In some special cases, they can last even longer than this.

So, that date you see on your M&Ms is to advise you to eat them before this date, so you get to enjoy them at their best quality.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t be eaten after this date.

I say that, on average, your M&Ms will last about a year after the date stated on their packaging. That is if they’re stored properly, of course.

However, it’s not uncommon for M&Ms to be good for as long as 18 months. 

And then there are the freak cases of M&Ms lasting even longer than this.

We’ll soon talk a bit more about how to know when your M&Ms have gone off and should no longer be eaten.

Before that, though, let’s quickly talk about the factors that will determine how long certain M&Ms will last, excluding storage for the moment, as we’ll talk about that as well soon.

M&Ms come in different flavors, as you will know. Each flavor is created using different ingredients.

These ingredients will vary in terms of how long they last for. The result is that some flavored M&Ms will have longer shelf lives than others.

Others might not last as long. The peanut-flavored M&Ms, for example, will not last as long as some other flavors.

This is because they contain peanuts, which don’t have as long a shelf life.

On the whole, though, M&Ms are mainly made from ingredients that make them last a long time.

Why Do M&Ms Last So Long?

M&Ms last so long because they are made of long-lasting ingredients, including chocolate. They also contain certain preservatives that help, and their outer shells also increase their longevity.

So far, we’ve kind of just taken the longevity of M&Ms for granted, basically assuming that they’re just super duper because they are. 

Well, there is actually a reason behind their longevity. 

It all comes down to what they’re made of, as we have briefly mentioned in the previous chapter.

One of the key ingredients that gives them their longevity is…chocolate! Of course, it is. They are a chocolate candy, and chocolate is very long-lasting.

A lot of their other ingredients are referred to as ‘pantry ingredients.’

By this, we mean they are ingredients that are long-lasting because the stuff we put in the pantry lasts a long time!

The inclusion of preservatives in M&Ms also increases the longevity of M&Ms. The clue is in their name.

The other factor is their shell-coating. This hard outer shell protects the chocolate and other ingredients on the inside, meaning they can last even longer.

When Should You Not Eat Expired M&Ms?

You should not eat expired M&Ms when they look, smell, or taste off.

With other foods, people talk about a grace period which is where you could still risk eating them maybe two days after their expiration date.

But with M&Ms and other candies, there isn’t such a period.

It’s more about examining the M&Ms and making the judgment of whether they are no longer good for eating.

Basically, your decision will determine whether you get sick from eating M&Ms or not. So no pressure.

To be honest with you, I’m not sure why you’re in this situation where you have M&Ms that are near being past safe to eat.

But who am I to ask any questions? It’s your life.

You’ll notice M&Ms have ‘gone bad’ when their taste changes significantly.

But that might be a riskier way of telling if you shouldn’t eat that batch of M&Ms anymore.

The best and safest way to form this judgment is to take a good look at the M&Ms and also to give them a big whiff.

If they look like they’re starting to discolor or even turn white, it’s probably time to say goodbye to these M&Ms.

If they smell odd and no longer like chocolate, then it’s also probably time to say goodbye.

How to Maximize How Long Your M&Ms Last

You can maximize how long your M&Ms last by storing them at the right temperatures and making sure they are properly sealed. Or if you’re really aiming for the future, then freeze them.

For whatever reason, you don’t want to eat your M&Ms right now or within the foreseeable future. Fair enough. Each to their own.

You want to extend how long your M&Ms can last for. Again, I’m not asking any questions, but I will give you some tips on how to achieve this.

Let’s get into them!

Keep Them At The Right Temperature

This is the key factor to focus on. In the fridge is good.

If they are kept at a temperature that is too hot, then they will melt, which means they will go off much sooner. 

Storing them in a pantry is still fine; they’ll last a fair while. But colder temperatures will really boost their longevity.

Just keep them away from heat!

Keep Them Properly Sealed

Make sure they’re sealed properly when you store them, whether that be in their original packaging or a sealed plastic bag. 

They need to be airtight for the best preservation!

Freeze Them

If you freeze them, you might add on another 12 months of longevity.

This will work so long as the M&Ms have not gone bad before you put them in.


Was any of this all at all necessary? I mean, who still has M&Ms left after their expiry date? Mine are usually all gone within a day.

Nevertheless, you can now rest easy in the knowledge that your M&Ms would have to be pretty old for them to make you sick.

Related Questions

How long are opened M&Ms good for?

Opened M&Ms are good for anywhere from a few days to a few months. It ultimately depends on where they are stored and what temperatures/environment they are exposed to. Generally, opened M&Ms left in the fridge will last longer than lose left out on the countertop.

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