Is hummus safe to eat after use by date? (Hummus shelf-life)
In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Is hummus safe to eat after use by date?”. We also will discuss hummus shelf life and the dangers of spoiled hummus
Is hummus safe to eat after use by date?
Eating hummus after its use-by date is not advisable. The use-by date is important for ensuring the safety of the product. It’s recommended to consume hummus by midnight on the indicated use-by date to avoid potential health risks.
This advice applies to other perishable items like fresh meats and dairy products too. As a food scientist, I’ve found that even if hummus looks and smells fine, consuming it after the use-by date can lead to health issues. (1, 2)
Hummus typically lasts 24-72 hours in the fridge. Cross-contamination from ingredients, utensils, and the environment is a concern during preparation. Without heat treatment or chemical preservatives, hummus has a short shelf life. Production is mostly limited to homes or local settings due to these constraints, allowing for consumption within 2-3 days. (3)
What are the causes of hummus spoilage?
Hummus provides an environment conducive to the proliferation of a diverse array of microorganisms, including spherical lactic acid bacteria (LAB) like Lactococcus, Enterococcus, and Leuconostoc, as well as yeasts and members of Enterobacteriaceae.
This susceptibility is attributed to the intrinsic conditions of hummus, characterized by a relatively low pH of 5.1, a high water activity above 0.98, and a notable concentration of oligosaccharides. LAB, particularly due to their efficient metabolism of sugars and production of lactic acid, dominate the microorganism composition.
Spoiled hummus can be recognized by its pronounced sour taste and a texture that becomes watery. The initial microbial quality of hummus is significantly influenced by factors such as its ingredients, preparation procedures, storage conditions, and the environment in which it is displayed and dispensed.
A major concern for food scientists is related to the easily oxidized and hydrolyzed fats found in hummus, primarily contributed by sesame pulp (Tahina).
The presence of highly active free radicals, including partially reduced or activated oxygen species resulting from water radiolysis, speeds up the process of fat oxidation and initiates this degradation. Additionally, the hydrolysis of fats by lipases poses a challenge during storage. (3, 4)
Can spoiled hummus cause food poisoning?
Yes. The consumption of hummus and its primary component, tahini, has been associated with several outbreaks of salmonellosis, leading to recalls on a global scale. Furthermore, hummus has been found to harbor various pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella species, and Escherichia coli.
Foodborne pathogens are a serious threat to public health and the economy. This has led to increased attention to food safety in the industry and scientific community. Strategies to address these issues are being developed, including post-production decontamination methods.
Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever, which vary depending on the specific pathogen. (5, 6)
How to properly store hummus?
Hummus is normally stored in refrigeration at 4°C after preparation, but it may be exposed to higher temperatures during mishandling and serving which may reduce its shelf life.
Different methods have been developed for the preservation of hummus such as canning and carton packaging. Thermally treated product, although has a shelf life of two years, has somewhat inferior flavor, color, nutritional and organoleptic properties to those of the fresh product (3, 4)
Can hummus spoil before the use-by date?
Yes. it is crucial to follow the storage guidelines provided by the manufacturer to guarantee the accuracy of the ‘use by’ date. While the food industry can implement suitable storage conditions until the product reaches the consumer, it becomes the consumer’s responsibility to uphold proper home storage practices, especially for refrigerated foods.
Considering the potential for fluctuations in temperature control during home storage, it becomes evident that some flexibility should be considered regarding the ‘use by’ date. Inadequate storage can result in the spoilage of the product before the designated use-by date. (2)
In this brief guide, we answered the question “Is hummus safe to eat after use by date?”. We also discussed hummus shelf life and the dangers of spoiled hummus. From my perspective as a food scientist, hummus can be dangerous after its use by date and even without spoilage signs can lead to food poisoning.
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HOLE, M. STORAGE STABILITY| Shelf-life Testing. 2003.
YAMANI, Mohammed I.; MEHYAR, Ghadeer F. Effect of chemical preservatives on the shelf life of hummus during different storage temperatures. Jordan Journal of Agricultural Sciences, v. 7, n. 1, p. 19-31, 2011.
AMR, A.; AL-QADIRI, H.; SHAHEIN, M. Chemical changes in hommos preserved with combined gamma radiation and refrigeration. Radiation Physics and Chemistry, v. 139, p. 97-99, 2017.
SON, Ezgi et al. Microwave decontamination process for hummus: A computational study with experimental validation. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, v. 82, p. 103162, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Food Poisoning Symptoms. 2022.