Does Food Coloring Expire?


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Food Coloring

Food coloring is one of the most interesting things to use when creating any type of foods. They help give the food a more vibrant color and it looks amazing without giving any sort of added flavor to it. Sometimes we don’t use all of the food coloring which means we store it away for the future. But that leads to the question of does food coloring expire?

And honestly, that’s a pretty good question to ask as many people have probably wondered the same thing.

Fortunately for you, you are in the right place as here in this article we dive in-depths and tell you everything you need to know about food coloring and more.

What Is Food Coloring?

Food Coloring More

Firstly, for those who don’t know, food coloring is basically an item that helps give certain foods a more colorful look. They come in all different colors and varieties, and is often used by many chefs or bakers to help give their food a more colorful pop.

For instance, it can be used in icings for cake or cupcakes, or even give that special drink a new colorful look.

It’s a perfectly safe ingredient that doesn’t harm the body while also providing a ton of fun.

After all, we eat with our eyes, and the more colorful or visually appealing the food is, the more we’ll want to eat it.

How Long Does Food Coloring Last?

Usually when something is about to expire, it’s usually due to either the food or ingredient having something in them that will go bad after a certain amount of time. However that doesn’t apple to food coloring.

Food coloring is a special item that doesn’t actually contain any raw ingredients or additives that can actually go bad. In fact, you can actually buy it, use it, and store it away for years to come and it will still be useable in the future.

This is because food coloring is typically made from water, artificial dyes, synthetic ingredients and also stabilizers which helps give it that colorful look.

This is also the reason why food coloring is safe for humans to consume. Hence why you’ll usually see a ton of people buying them during the holidays to use and paint certain things. Easter for one is a popular time where people from all around buy food coloring to help color their eggs.

As long as you are buying the food coloring from a grocery store, it will usually last you for quite a long time. You just have to make sure you follow the instructions and store it away in a proper place.

Does Food Coloring Go Bad?

Food coloring in general does not really go bad. It’s typically made from safe ingredients that doesn’t really have a shelf life or expiration date. But the only thing you need to worry about is how you are storing the food coloring.

When you store the food coloring, you want to make sure to store it in a dark spot away from the sun. Usually someplace like a closet or a pantry shelf will be great for storing food coloring. Try to avoid storing it someplace in direct contact with sunlight or super hot areas as the heat from the sun can change how the food coloring works.

Now even though we say that, even if you don’t store the food coloring properly, it doesn’t actually go bad. It will still be usable no matter what, but it may be a bit harder to use. For instance, the color may be altered in a way where it might not suit your tastes and you may have to go buy a new food color.

But this isn’t too much of an issue as most people will have access to shelfs, closets, drawers and more where you can properly store your food coloring. As long as you take proper care of your food coloring, it should not go bad and will actually last you for a very long time.

Why Does Food Coloring Have An Expiration Date?

The reason why food coloring has an expiration date is because of how the laws work in our country. Basically, if any item is considered a food item that is intended for consumption, the the food manufacturers are required by law to print an expiration date on them for people to know.

But even with an expiration date, it does not mean the food coloring will actually go bad.

After all, food coloring in general does not contain any raw ingredients or additives that are known to expire. So because of this, they should last you for many years even past the expiration date.

Can Homemade Food Coloring Expire?

Food Coloring Natural

Nowadays, many people are starting to move into a more health inspired lifestyle, so it’s common to see people not wanting to buy the grocery store brand food colorings. In fact, many are actually trying to make their own food colorings at home as they can ensure it’ll be as natural as possible.

However, when you’re making a homemade food coloring, you should know that they could possibly expire since it all depends on how you are making it and what recipe you are going to use.

The most important thing to do when your making homemade food coloring is to label everything. Keep track of all the expiration dates from each item you are going to use. This way when you actually make your food coloring, you’ll know exactly how long it’ll last and when it’ll go bad.

For instance, a common way many people make natural food colorings is to simply extract the color from vegetables or fruits. This might be great and all, but you have to keep track of when you bought the vegetables and fruits and figure out how long they’ll last. Because keeping it for too long, you will run the risk of bacterial growth happening around it.

Other than that, it just depends on what kind of ingredients you are using and what type of recipe you are using as well. As long as you follow proper steps and keep track of all expiration dates as well as storing it properly in the fridge then it should be usable for at least a few weeks.

How To Store Food Coloring For Future?

If you are buying food coloring from grocery stores, then they are generally easier to store for the future. Typically you can just find a dark space somewhere that is room temperature and store it there.

Just make sure it’s away from the sunlight or any areas that can get hot and it should be fine. The reason for this is because the heat can alter the properties of the food coloring making it a lot harder to use. It might even change the color of the food coloring which is not something you want when using food coloring.

Storing it properly in a dark space ensures that you can use that food coloring for a long time, even a few years or longer as there is nothing that expires inside of the food coloring.

Now if you were to make a homemade food coloring and want to store it, then it’s a bit different. Usually homemade food coloring is made from natural products so it does have a shelf life and needs to be carefully stored.

For homemade food coloring, you’ll generally want to keep it stored away inside the refrigerator as the cool air will help keep the food coloring safe from any changes happening. And doing so will also prolong its shelf life to around a few weeks.


At the end of the day, the expiration date for food coloring generally depends on what kind of food coloring you have. If it’s from a grocery store that uses synthetic dyes, then it usually doesn’t have an expiration date and can last a very long time. But if its homemade then it will usually expire after a few weeks or less. It all just depends on what kind of food coloring you use.