Eating food after expiration date could shorten lifespan, study suggests

BOSTON — You might want to pay more mind to the “sell by” date on your food after all. Recent research out of Harvard University concludes that eating food past its expiration date could potetntially lead to an earlier death.

Harvard Professor of Medicine Vadim Gladyshev set out for more information about what causes aging. In the process, he determined that molecular damage accumulating within the cells is one part of it. Some of that damage might be caused by eating old food.

“This damage is generated by nearly every cellular process. So over time, we have many, many ‘damage forms,’ millions or billions, and as a function of age, they accumulate,” he explains in Harvard Magazine.

To test this theory out in relation to food, the researchers fed different types of old food to yeast, fruit flies, and mice. In doing so they found that the old food consistently shortened each of the sample lifespans by 10 percent. However, when it came to the mice, it only seemed that old food shortened the lifespan of the female mice. They also recognize that the mice had been had normal diets prior to the experiment, so there might not have been enough time for the new diets to make a huge different per the study’s sake.

These studies were published this month in Science Advances.The authors actually thought that the findings would be more serious than they were, but they were confident that they were on the right track. “That shows us that these age-related changes that accumulate are truly deleterious, and that provides a fundamental insight into the aging process,” adds Gladyshev.

The researchers also recognize that food and the cell reaction in the body is just one part of the complicated process that aging is, but they are hopeful that the new knowledge is leading them in the right direction to finding out more on the topic.

“So the question is, how do we slow down this process?” asks Gladyshev. “How do we restructure cellular metabolism so that this damage accumulates at a slower rate?”

Perhaps eating eight servings of fresh produce per day could be one way — as another recent study finds this practice may extend one’s lifespan.


  1. I always like the “could” research. It’s like a caviot to allow them an out when in a year a new study that says eating food that past its expiration date “could” extend you life.

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