Kraft Mac and Cheese is a staple of many homes, the go-to food when you didn’t get time to prepare something tastier. Sell-by dates and expiry dates can be confusing for several reasons.
Why does a dry product like pasta expire in a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese?
In this article, we take a look at how Kraft Mac and Cheese should be stored to maximize its shelf life. Should you keep Kraft Mac and Cheese in the refrigerator or freezer?
Let’s get into it.
How should you store Kraft Mac and Cheese?
If you look at the component parts of the ingredients, it’s made up of macaroni (dried pasta) and a pack of cheese sauce.
Standard pasta, which you assume Kraft macaroni is, has an incredibly long shelf life if unopened and stored in a moisture-free environment. After all, macaroni is just durum flour and water; not even eggs are used in the pasta.
The cheese sauce is a little more complex in its construction. Here are the ingredients:
- Whey (from milk).
- Cheddar Cheese.
- Milk. Cheese culture.
- Sunflower Oil.
- Sodium Phosphate. Blue Cheese.
- Contains Less than 2% of Citric Acid.
- Yellow 5.
- Yellow 6.
- Lactic Acid.
As a side issue on preservatives, do you know those coloring agents (Red #40, Yellow #6, Yellow #5, and Blue #1) Synthetic colors are illegal in the U.K. because of links to hyperactivity and inattention in children and they’re derived from petroleum?
So how should you store the Cheese element of the product? Is it better in a refrigerator or freezer to increase its shelf life and prevent bacteria from growing on the cheese?
Again if unopened, the cheese element can last for months. It has preservatives to extend its life.
How long can you keep Kraft Mac and Cheese once the packets are opened?
If the product has been opened and cooked, then you can expect a life of two days in the refrigerator and two weeks in the freezer compartment.
If the cheese develops a watery texture on the surface, it is questionable if you should eat the mac and cheese.
If for some reason, the packet has been opened and you want to store the mac and cheese and place it in a dry leakproof airtight container, the mac should last many months. The cheese part has a maximum life in the freezer of a couple of weeks, which should be discarded after this time.
How long can you store boxed mac and cheese?
Macaroni is pasta made from flour and water, then dehydrated so it is dry. It can last two years or longer if the macaroni pasta is kept free from moisture and is in dry air.
If the box has not been opened and stored in a cool, moisture-free environment, you can expect to gain another two to three months past the Kraft Mac and Cheese expiry date.
But as soon as it is opened, transfer the mac to a plastic container and store the cheese in the freezer to get the maximum life from the product.
Can I eat Kraft Mac and Cheese that expired a year ago?
Your Kraft Mac and Cheese box will have a best-before date printed on the side of the box. Kraft guarantees the shelf life of the product. If you eat the product after this date, Kraft has no responsibility to you. Any legal recourse you may consider would be dismissed.
If you decide to eat Kraft Mac and Cheese after one year from the expiry date, you may find the product is still ok. Certainly, the pasta should be in good condition. Some of the mac and cheese flavors may have diminished, but if it smells okay, you should be good to go.
How long is boxed mac and cheese good for in the fridge?
Let’s make an assumption that the Kraft Mac and Cheese has not been opened and has been stored in the fridge. If the packaging has been kept dry, then the shelf life should be the same as storing it outside the fridge.
For many people, storing food in the fridge is natural, even if it’s dried food like pasta.
The fridge is a great place to store your Kraft Mac and Cheese. The humidity should be low, preventing the products from moisture exposure.
However, your product has a best-before date, which should not be ignored. Beyond the best, before date, your fridge will not have extended the product’s life.
If the meal is cooked, you will have three to four days of storage in the fridge before the Kraft Mac and Cheese turns bad.
Does storing Kraft Mac and Cheese in the freezer extend the expiry date?
There is no purpose to storing dry products such as macaroni in a freezer, but if you have tossed your Kraft Mac and Cheese in the freezer for longer life, you may be disappointed.
If the macaroni is airtight, it should be ok, but if not, ice crystal structures will penetrate the product and destroy the pasta. The cheese element of the dish may seem like a frozen block, but even sealed food can be susceptible to freezer burn over extended periods.
Again because the cheese part of the dish contains some water, the water will freeze, and crystals will form, making the product almost a sludge consistency, it should taste fine, but the consistency will change over time.
Assuming you have cooked the Kraft Mac and Cheese and it’s placed in an airtight container you could expect at least two weeks further life from the product that can be microwaved at any time.
Does boxed mac and cheese really expire?
Yes. At some point, the Kraft Mac and Cheese will expire and will not be edible.
Commercially packaged macaroni and cheese mix will typically carry a “Best Buy,” “Best if Used By,” “Best Before,” or “Best When Used By” date, but this is not a safety date; rather, it is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the macaroni and cheese mix will last, provided it is appropriately stored, and the package is undamaged.
How long does cheese powder last?
Kraft cheese powders contain some cheese but are processed, dehydrated, and mixed with preservatives. The Kraft cheese powder will last an incredibly long time, between ten and fifteen years.
How can you know if your Kraft Mac and Cheese have gone bad?
It seems complicated to ascertain if the macaroni element of the mac and cheese will go bad and as most of the flavor is from the cheese sauce, it’s this element of the dish that will make the difference to the dish.
Here are three things you will notice if your Kraft Mac and Cheese has gone bad:
- The cheese sauce will smell funky. A nice macaroni and cheese will smell strongly of cheese and creamy goodness. If yours emits an unpleasant smell, there may be a problem.
Whatever the situation, you won’t like eating the mac & cheese. Discord the mac and cheese immediately, and do not attempt to tough it out and get it down.
- Kraft Mac ANd Cheese that has been cooked or uncooked can be contaminated with mold. If there is a slight opening within the packaging through mishandling from the retailer, then moisture could seep into the product creating mold. If you can see green or gray patches or anything not looking quite right, discard the food immediately.
- Cooked macaroni and cheese ought to have a cheesy, creamy flavor. Any other strange taste, such as an excessively harsh sourness, could be a clue that the food has gone rancid unless you have added other components that make it taste different. Even if eating it might not make you ill, it’s wise to discard the meal.
- When pasta has gone bad, it becomes slimy and gooey. The texture is clear to see, and The pasta should be discarded.
Why does Kraft Mac and Cheese taste different from homemade mac and cheese?
It’s all about ingredients and the mass production of food products. Kraft introduced a new recipe way back in 2015, so if you are new to the product, this could be the reason.
Kraft adds some spices into the mix, endeavoring to make the flavor profile more appealing to a broader demographic. However, when adding spices, you may lose the most significant percentage of the market, which must be viewed as kids.
How long does Kraft cheese last?
Kraft cheese is processed, which gives it a longer shelf life than regular cheese like Colby or cheddar. Kraft has an estimated life of five to six months, but in an airtight container in the fridge could last longer.
The main thing that causes cheese to go bad is bacteria. Regular cheese grows, molds on the surface quickly, and is sliced away before being sold to consumers.
It’s perfectly safe and just how the cheese industry is. Cheese can last for years if stored correctly.
Related: Does string cheese go bad?