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Educational

Educational

Do Edibles Expire? Yes, But That's Not the Entire Answer

By Andrew Ward

Do Edibles Expire? Yes, But That's Not the Entire Answer

Edibles are a popular cannabis consumption method made of infused cannabinoid products, often containing THC and or CBD. What was once a limited space now includes just about any food or drink that can be infused.

 

Edibles serve as a popular alternative to inhaled consumption options like smoked and vaped products. They also significantly impact consumers, with effects often lasting six to 12 hours. The prolonged effects, which kick in anywhere from 15 to 120 minutes after consuming, can affect consumers in various ways, with mostly beneficial results reported.

 

One of the few instances where edibles aren't so beneficial is when they are consumed past their expiration date. With cannabis affecting everyone differently already, you don't want to run the risk of adding expired ingredients or cannabinoids into the mix.

 

Edibles, like most other foods and drinks, can absolutely expire. But that's just the top layer of the answer. 

 

Do Marijuana Edibles Expire?

Yes, just about, if not every, edible will expire at some point. The same applies to non-infused items. In either case, food and drinks are influenced by various factors, including [1]: 

  • Ingredients used
  • Storage method 
  • Preservatives used

 

Perishable ingredients such as dairy, eggs, and fats can spoil in a few days or weeks. On the other hand, items like gelatin-based gummies can last several months to two years. 

 

Infused edibles run into additional food safety concerns when concerning freshness. Ingredients and plant compounds will diminish at some point. Even if gelatin lasts for a year, that doesn't mean that the THC has not already degraded and converted to the sedation-inducing cannabinoid CBN.

 

Edibles are popular products at dispensaries and a DIY staple for many enthusiasts. As such, consumers need to consider the source of their edibles when determining potential freshness. 

Most licensed products will contain preservatives that are commercially produced to extend a product's shelf life. 

 

While some edibles may utilize similar methods, options that don't will lead to a shorter shelf life. No matter where the edible was produced, storing your items in a cool, dark place when not in use is best. Doing so will extend the shelf life of the edible for as long as possible.

 

But that only answers part of the question still. With just about every food or drink imaginable able to be infused, we can't give a blanket answer to how long an edible will last. Considering some of cannabis's most popular edible types made and sold, the expiration dates can vary significantly: 

 

Popular Cannabis Edible Types and Their Shelf Lives

Edible shelf lives vary significantly based on the ingredients and storage methods utilized. Some of the most popular infused edibles and their shelf lives are [2]:

 

Gummies

Gummies typically contain stable ingredients making for longer shelf lives. Produced using water, sugar, and gelatin in many cases, gummies can typically stay fresh for 6 to 24 months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place away from the elements such as air, light, and heat. 

 

Baked Goods

Infused cookies and other baked goods made from perishables like milk and eggs are prone to shorter shelf lives. These ingredients spoil much quicker than stable ingredients used in gummies. Sometimes, cookies made without perishables could spoil in as little as three days. 

 

Keeping cookies in tightly sealed containers or using oxygen-absorbing packets can extend shelf life. Freezing may also help for any edibles you don't plan on eating in the next few weeks. But you do risk losing some of the item's texture when defrosting.

 

Non-gelatin Candies

Non-gelatin candies, including hard candies, lozenges, and caramels, tend to last for several months to around a year. The specific timeframe will depend on the ingredients used, with any dairy-based products having shorter shelf lives. 

 

Tincture

Tinctures extract THC and other cannabinoids from the plant using alcohol or glycerine. The extraction process stabilizes the tincture, allowing its THC content to last up to five years if stored properly in a cool, dark place, ideally in a UV-protected glass dropper bottle. 

 

Honey

Honey is a lesser-used infused option but can be found in many dispensaries. Home producers can also make their own infused honey with relative ease. 

 

Honey is ideal for anyone looking to sweeten up an edible or benefit from its healing properties. It’s also one of the few foods with little to no chance of spoiling [3]. 

 

Consumers can find several other infused edible options, including some with prolonged shelf lives in the range of tinctures and honey. No matter the product you choose, understand its expected freshness window and how to store it for maximum effect until ready to consume. 

 

Can Edibles Lose Their Potency?

While you can find cannabis-infused edibles that last several years or longer, that doesn't mean their cannabinoid content will stay as fresh as the product itself. THC, the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, does spoil in a way. 

 

Over time, typically around a year, it will convert to the sleep-inducing minor cannabinoid CBN. This means that even if you have an edible with an uplifting effect advertised, it could put you to sleep if you don’t eat or drink it soon enough [4]. 

 

While certain products, notably tinctures, will maintain their THC compounds for a prolonged period, possibly well over a year, many products will see formulation change within 12 months. The best way to prevent this conversion in any product is by using storage best practices. 

 

Best Storage Practices

Storing edibles properly not only extends their shelf life. It also protects you and other consumers from confusing cannabinoid-infused products with everyday foods and drinks. Whether looking to extend the shelf life of an item or keep your kids from them, consider the following:

 

A Cool, Dark Place

Storing edibles and other cannabis products almost always boils down to the same rule: Store your items in a place away from direct sunlight, oxygen, and heat sources to maintain product freshness. 

 

Control Humidity

Excess moisture leads to bacterial growth, a deal breaker for any consumable item. 

 

Refrigerate or Freeze Perishables

Refrigerate edibles containing dairy, eggs, or other perishable ingredients. Some items can be frozen for a longer shelf life but may lose some texture qualities when defrosted. 

 

Pay Attention to Expiration Dates

Pay attention to the best-by dates before consuming. Products expire on or around the date posted on the package. Consuming after that date may lead to adverse reactions, including unpleasant taste, lack of effects, and adverse health effects. 

 

Store Separately from Non-Infused Items

Avoid confusion by storing your edibles in a separate, cool, dark place from your other foods and drinks. If you must keep items together in the refrigerator or freezer, label the infused items and consider storing them in one area of the unit to avoid confusion. 

 

Store in Original Packaging

Storing items in their original packaging helps consumers know what they’re about to eat. If you can’t keep the item in its original packaging, consider keeping some of the packaging and storing it in the new container with the edibles. 

 

Check for Spoilage

An edible's shelf life is influenced by several factors, ranging from ingredients to storage conditions. While you can't do much about the ingredients in a purchased edible, you have control over homemade edibles and the ingredients you utilize--which can shorten or extend product shelf lives. 

 

When it comes to cannabis, it is almost always recommended that products be stored in a cool, dark place and in an airtight, ideally UV-protected, container. If you're making your own edibles, consider using an all-natural preservative to keep them fresh for several days or weeks longer. 

Inspect for any signs of spoilage, including:

  • Discoloration   
  • Mildew   
  • Mold  
  • Texture change   
  • Unexpected smell   
  • Unexpected taste 

 

Cannabinoid changes are a bit more challenging to assess. Remember the best buy date. Also, look for any unexpected sedative effects to determine if the THC has turned to CBN. 

 

Snoozy’s line of edibles, made from all-natural, vegan, and gluten-free ingredients, is made to last. We think you’ll love the taste and gobble them up quickly. But if you want to save them, that works, too, since they stay fresh for up to two years. 

 

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