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Does Sugar Go Bad

does sugar go bad

Luckily, Sugar do not go bad. Food safety experts from the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Services and Inspection Service say that “sugar never gets spoiled”, but the research also recommends using the sugar within 2 years after opening the packet. 

Moreover, Sugar beet and sugar cane are the source for nearly all industrial raw and refined crystal sugar and their processing steps are similar with only a few notable differences. Sugar beet and Sugar cane both are harvested for making of crystalized sugar and almost have the same process of refining sugar. (Reference link 2)

If you still have some doubts about, does sugar expire or can sugar go bad, or because of its sweet nature it attracts bacteria or mould. Then your answer to those questions is answered by the Nutrition and Food Science Department at the University of Maryland.

They suggest that, just like salt, sugar also has microbial growth, which prevents it from getting spoiled.  They also explained in a scientific way that sugar protects itself through osmosis or dehydration, which means it draws the water present in the food to the outside and inserts sugar particles into the food. So, there is not enough space for microbial colonies to grow in sugar. 

Knowing the scientific explanation is such a relief, right! But with that, since it is recommended that you consume it within 2 years after opening, let’s find out some warning signs if you have it stored in your pantry.

3 Warning Signs That Your Sugar Has Gone Bad

 Although we just read that sugar cannot go bad and has a long shelf life which clearly doesn’t include the carelessly stored sugars because that can go bad here are a few signs to tell whether sugar has gone or not. But, keeping it stored and consuming it carelessly may not be a good idea as you might  get to see warning signs like: 

When Does Open Sugar Go Bad? 

If you won’t store opened packets of sugars properly then it might get infected by the bugs, mould and other contaminants.The research conducted in Utah State University says that the containers for the sugars storage should be airtight, moisture proof and it should be opaque to keep it away from the direct exposure of light. (Reference link 1)

Thus, I think, storing the sugars is the main and most efficient part, which determines the shelf life of your regular table sugars. Moreover,  it is always written on the packet that it is best to use this before the given date. That date is not exactly the expiry date but that date tells the intact-ness of the sugars quality. So, here comes the right steps to store that I indeed prefer to take

Tips To Store Opened Sugar 

I usually prefer to seal the packet with the packet sealing clips or seal with the sealing tape after opening it, because  moisture makes granulated sugars hard and forms clumps. Also, sealing it helps to keep it dust -free also.

But, if sealing it is not your choice, you can use airtight containers or bags to store it to prevent clumps. Or else, you can also store it in the same way as you’ve stored the flour, corn-starch and other powdered products. It really works to keep it fresh and easy to store.

I think these are important choices to consider because, In the research it is said that the paper packages used in retail are not suitable for long term storage, so when you bring sugar from the mart, open it and put it in an airtight container as mentioned. (Reference link 1) 

When Does Unopened Sugar Go Bad? 

As we already got our answer above, “technically sugars never gets spoiled” and especially if it’s unopened because it prevents itself by performing a process called osmosis. The shelf life of sugar is almost indefinite, which means that you can use an unopened packet of sugar after years and most probably there are chances that it is still consumable or edible. 

And the methods to store an unopened packet of sugars is pretty much the same as you should store an opened packet but here is one more tip that stores the sugars away from the wet place and put it in a cool and dark place and also keep it away from appliances. Best place to store it is in your pantry with an odourless product. 

What Happens If You Have Expired Sugar?

If you’ve consumed sugars from an old packet out of your pantry and found out that it expired and got worried about your health or you are just simply brainstorming that sugars will expire.

Then the answer to your curiosity is that don’t worry about the expiration date on the packet because that date determines the date of quality of the sugar and not its shelf life as it is indefinite.

It will not affect your health in any way but it does tell you that you need to check other products in your pantry. So, if you want sugar to stay “immortal” then follow the tips mentioned below for both opened and unopened packets of sugar.

Pro-tip To Extend The Life Of Sugar

Here are some tips to extend the life of sugar:


Q1. Does Powdered Sugar Go Bad 

Ans. If you are wondering if powdered sugar goes bad, then Powdered sugar, if stored in a right manner, can last indefinitely and not only powdered sugar but confectioneries can last longer than other products. 

Q2. Does Confectioners sugar go bad?

Ans. Whether it is confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar or your regular table, if you’ve stored it right and tight then fortunately you can use it any time. 

Q3. Is It Ok To Use Expired Sugar?

Ans. The expiry date mentioned at the back of the packet is usually of two years but if the packet is unopened or even if it is opened but stored right then you can use it past its expiry date.  

Note: All these reference links are mentioned here so that readers get the assurance that the information they have been provided with are accurate and well researched.

Reference Links:

1) Utah State University: Storing Sugars

2) Science Direct: Components of sugar crystals

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