Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal can last in your pantry without going stale for six to 12 months.
“Cereals don’t really go bad. There is not that much of a quality issue. If you leave your cereal box open, it can get stale, but you are still not going to get sick from it,” says Emily Broad Leib, the director of Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic.
Dr. Ted Labuza, a professor of food science and engineering at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, and one of the NRDC and Harvard study’s co-authors, studies the shelf-life of foods, and says that manufacturers are eager to list a “best by” date so that consumers will have the best experience with their product. That’s because studies show that about 15% of the people who don’t have a pleasant eating experience won’t try that product again for two to three years.