Do Probiotics Expire Or Not? (You Can Still Take Them)
I created & sell my own probiotic supplement called FlowFlora so I am extremely well versed in the process a probiotic's supplement takes from creation to expiration.
For most people, the whole purpose of taking a probiotic supplement is to help with some sort of digestive health issue.
The idea of taking a probiotic supplement that is close to its expiry date can be a frightening prospect for someone with IBS.
In this guide, I will share what happens when you take an out-of-date probiotic supplement and give you some tips on protecting the potency to make sure you get the maximum health benefits possible.
What's The Shelf Life Of Probiotics?
If you bought your probiotic supplement from a reputable USA-manufactured brand then will be able to flip the bottle upside down and check the expiry date of your probiotics. This is a legal requirement and a sign that your probiotic supplement is from a reputable brand.
This bottle of FlowFlora 40 Billion CFU probiotics will expire in September 2023 and the closer it gets to that date the higher the chances the CFU count will decrease.
FlowFlora contains Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium bacteria which can be sensitive to high heat conditions.
Because of that, the probiotic capsule is coated in a MAKTREK Bi-Pass Technology which is a substance derived from brown seaweed. This also helps the probiotic bacteria survive stomach acid.
Other probiotic supplements that contain just powdered Bacillus Coagulan's bacteria for example may be more resistant to extreme heat and harsh conditions.
This probiotic strain, however, often tends to be used in probiotic gummies which contain separate ingredients that aren't as resistant.
Olly supplements for example typically expire after 18 months and that is because of the water, cane sugar, gelatin, lactic acid, and citric acid ingredients. Bacillus Coagulans in capsule format however would have a much longer shelf life.
Figuring out the manufacture date, expiry date, and then the CFU count of a probiotic supplement can let you calculate when the probiotic will eventually expire.
The date expiry date on probiotic supplements however isn't the same as the expiry date on a block of cheese or bottle of kefir.
Eating or drinking either of those foods passed their sell-by date could potentially lead to an upset stomach but for a powdered probiotic capsule the worst thing that can happen is that you simply just waste your money swallowing probiotic bacteria is dead.
5 Tips To Help A Probiotic Not Expire Fast
All probiotic supplements will eventually expire regardless of any steps you take to protect the efficacy but there are some steps you take to protect the potency & shelf life of a probiotic.
- 2Order Your Probiotic Domestically & Not Internationally.
- 3Keep The Probiotic Bottle Out Of Direct Sunlight.
- 4Clean Your Hands Before Taking A Capsule Out Of The Bottle.
- 5Keep The Capsules Away From Any Moisture And The Lid Tightly Sealed.
The best place for a probiotic capsule to get passed stomach acid and ultimately settle in the lower part of your intestines where the temperature is constant and the bacteria can feed off prebiotic fiber to multiply & grow.
Up until that point, you should limit the potential damage that can be done to the probiotic bacteria by following those 5 steps.
If you live in the USA then make sure to order from a company that stores their bottles in a USA warehouse that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and also lab tests their supplements.
and if possible pay extra to get the bottle delivered in insulated ice. This is all true for Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria but other strains like Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus Coagulans in capsule form won't need this same level of care since they can survive harsher environments. Other Soil-based probiotics from the bacillus species also may not need to be refrigerated.
What Happens If You Take Expired Probiotics?
The good news is that provided that you have kept the capsules inside your bottle clean from any bad bacteria or water nothing will happen if you take expired probiotics.
Probiotic Supplements Passed Their Expiry Date Aren't Harmful. Don't Panic!
Bad bacteria and mould won't get the chance the grow and instead all that will happen is the probiotic bacteria will die off and you won't get a high CFU dose of probiotic bacteria.
Sometimes a sign that your probiotic is a dud or fake is when nothing happens after taking a probiotic supplement. One test I recommend to readers is splitting open your probiotic capsule and pouring it into a glass of organic whole raw milk.
Next Quick Read: Do Probiotics Break A Fast?
After that, leave it out in the open over-night and check if it turns into yogurt. If the milk does not slowly change into a yogurt texture then there is a good chance that your probiotic has expired.
If your probiotic has expired it's best to just order a new fresh bottle or request a refund if a brand has shipped out a useless probiotic supplement.
Over time, the CFU count of probiotics will likely drop but storing it and taking care of the bottle can help preserve the Colony Forming Units.
With fermented foods like Kimchi, Kefir, Yogurt, Sauerkraut and Miso Paste the CFU count does get stronger over time before eventually losing its freshness but after a certain period of time they will not be safe to consume.
Most powdered probiotic capsules on the other will be safe to consume but they simply won't do anything and the bad bacteria will win their fight against the bad bacteria.