Soda, both diet and regular, is one of those beverages that appears to last forever when unopened. While beer gets skunky and wine turns to vinegar, soda lingers on. There are "use by" dates on many cans of soda, but what do they mean?
Flavored Vs. Club Soda
Unopened, cans of soda generally have a "use by" date of one year from the production date.
Soda stored in plastic usually has a recommended date of three months after packaging. This is due directly to loss of carbonation through the plastic seal.
Can soda go flat if unopened? It will go flat faster in plastic; the pressure of the fizz seeps around the seal. Plastic containers are worrisome to many consumers because of chemicals in the plastic that may be seeping into the beverage.
Currently, these plastics are deemed food safe and non-reactive. For those with concerns about plastics, it's still possible to buy soda in non-reactive glass bottles.
Experts on liquor cabinets at Lebamoff's Cap n' Cork recommend refrigerating unopened soda and tonic, discarding it on the use by date and using it up as soon as you open it.
Club soda has a very simple, slightly bitter flavor when fizzy. When it's flat, it just tastes like water that's gotten old.
Don't hang on to opened club soda containers for more than a day or two, and if your club soda is in plastic, follow the use by date.
Glass bottles may have a bit more flexibility; check the odor of the soda before trying to drink it.
Does Soda Go Bad?
If you open a can of diet or sugary soda and it:
- Doesn't fizz
- Smells off or nasty
You should discard it immediately. Cans of Soda can develop tiny air holes in the top seal if handled roughly. Fizz will escape through this air hole.
Worse, bacteria can enter in through this opening. You have no idea where that soda has been stored. It's been exposed to dust, exhaust, and possibly worse conditions.
Per food authorities with ActiveBeat.com expired soda carries health risks, and contaminated cans can make you very sick. Any opportunistic bacteria can and will happily digest the sugars in that can of soda and contaminate the beverage.
So how long does soda last? Discarding soda after the use by date is probably a good idea. Many of us have gotten used to the flavor of soda pop from the soda fountains at fast food places or convenience stores, and that soda is both fizzy and fresh.
Old soda might taste fine, or it may make you sick. Why risk it?
Why Does Soda Go Flat?
Sodas fizz up when you open them because each can is sealed with carbon dioxide dissolved in the liquid. Releasing the sealing pressure converts the CO2 to gas and the bubbles escape.
Per experts with LiveScience.com, over time, the bubbles decrease because the CO2 is escaping. This changes the fizziness, changes the flavor, and reduces the preservative action of CO2 in your soda.
Is It Bad To Drink Flat Soda?
As previously stated, if you open a fresh can of soda and it doesn't fizz at all, the can may have a leak. Do not drink this soda; it may be contaminated with bacteria.
Does Coke expire? It has a use by date, which is best respected. Soda is not terribly expensive; food poisoning is miserable.
If you have a bottle of soda that you've previously opened and enjoyed, the remaining soda will be safe, but flat.
There are fun things you can do with flat soda in the kitchen, such as Coca-Cola Cake or these delicious Coca-Cola Chicken Wings from Meggan at Culinary Hill.
Fizz Has A Flavor
The CO2 sealed in your container of soda will add a slight sourness to your drink. You may not even notice this until your soda goes flat.
However, if you love an ice cold Coke with plenty of fizz but find it unpleasantly sweet once it's flat, you have discerning taste. Fizzy soda not only has a different texture, but carbonation changes the flavor.
The Container Is Key
One of the biggest challenges to keeping carbonated beverages fresh is the loss of fizz. Sodas stored in cans or glass bottles will stay bubbly and fresh much longer than sodas stored in plastic bottles.
There are several low or no calorie sweeteners on the market that are impacted by factors including heat, cold, and time. Cooking experts with FamilyEducation.com point out that sucralose, also called Splenda, is extremely heat tolerant and stable.
Follow the use by date on your containers of soda and don't try to store it long term if you really enjoy carbonation. For long term storage, avoid plastic containers.
Finally, if you really enjoy fountain soda, buy glass bottles. The flavor is worth it!