I have some energy gel sachets that are a few months out of date. Do they contain anything that might be dangerous after their best-before date?

  • 4
    Is it a use-by date or a best-before date? Use-by means it's not guaranteed to be safe, but if it's been stored well it could be OK, so it's your risk. Best-before is just consumer scare tactics.
    – andy256
    May 17, 2015 at 9:25
  • OTOH, I have never used such things. For me, there are 3 kinds of ride: no banana, one banana, two banana, ... . Extra points to those who can add the next line(s) ...
    – andy256
    May 17, 2015 at 9:29
  • 1
    It's a best before date, I'll update the question
    – Matt
    May 17, 2015 at 9:49
  • 2
    Even use-by dates are set cautiously. best-before dates are not only set cautiously but based on any detectable change, not necessarily for the worse, in testing.
    – Chris H
    May 17, 2015 at 13:58
  • 1
    As long as the packaging is intact, it should be fine, though the taste/texture may not be what you're expecting. I once ate a powergel that was expired by over a year after a short ride turned into a longer ride than expected, I was hungry and the only food I had was that expired gel in the bottom of my bike pack. It looked and smelled ok, and tasted fine, but the texture was a little lumpy. I didn't suffer any ill effects.
    – Johnny
    May 23, 2015 at 1:09

4 Answers 4


I don't think this is problematic. Those gels consist mainly of sugar which is a good preserving agent and are sealed air-tight which means they shoudn't get easily contaminated. So if none of the following conditions are fulfilled, I wouldn't mind using such a gel that is some months over their "best before" date:

  • The sachet hull is intact, i.e. there are no signs that unwanted air could have gotten in. Look for unwanted openings like deep scratches in the foil, rips, or signs that the package has been havily compressed or worked.
  • The gels have not been stored in extreme conditions. As long as they were at moderate temperature and not exposed to sunlight most of the time everything should be fine. Also having carried them in your backpack for the weekly ride in summer should not be a problem. I would be somewhat concerned if you had had them with you on a two or three weeks tour in hot climate.

So basically you should be safe and even if you have a spoiled one you should notice that as soon as you taste it – I don't think they will spoil in a way that you cannot notice but will get sick from it. If you are unsure or have to rely on your food on a longer ride do the following: Try one of them at home to see if it's OK and take other food with you on tour as well, so that you can leave the gels alone in case you are not sure about them.

  • Good answer except the tasting spoilage part. You cannot rely on taste or smell to detect food spoilage. You most assuredly can get sick from food that looks, smells and tastes perfectly fine. May 18, 2015 at 5:38

I would probably eat them if they look and taste ok. Also check if the package looks ok (and is not swallow, for example). It is up to you though. Ask yourself: would you eat an yogurt or cookies in the same situation?

It is not because these are made of sugar that they hold better or not. Some products do, some products don't, and the manufacturer of your gels knows your product better than you, and set an expiration date for a reason. This is true for all edible products, energy gels are no different.


I've checked this question before I took my few months out of date GU gel for a run. Your answers gave me lots of confidence to chance it on a long run with no washrooms in sight. I'm happy to report that it tasted just like normal and nothing bad happened to me at all. Now I'm looking forward to finishing the remaining few I have left. Money saved. I wouldn't risk it on a race day but for training it should be fine. As always, smell it first before you put it in your mouth.

  • It's great to hear that it worked out for you. However, this is not really an answer to your question. As such, I would recommend adding to the question itself instead. I would do it like this: Add a horizontal divider (--- on a separate line), then a header reading something like "Update:" and then paste your text. That way it becomes auxiliary information to your question (which it is) instead of abusing the answer format. Sep 26, 2019 at 3:08
  • yǝsʞǝla is not the author of the question. Sep 26, 2019 at 13:25

Hello All: I used a GU this weekend that was 5 years out of date. It tasted and smelled ok and the packaging was intact. 28 hours later, nothing has fallen off my body, and I just swam 2200m! While it should always be "user beware" for out-of-date packaged foods, that is one person's experience.

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