I Ate Bad Cheese That Smells Bad! What Do I Do?

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Have you ever wondered what might happen if you eat bad cheese? “I ate bad cheese that smells bad!” is what you might find yourself saying if you accidentally eat cheese that smells rancid, tastes awful, and has lost its former texture. But should you be concerned about your health if you eat bad cheese? Join us as we set out to answer your burning questions related to consuming bad cheese.

Table of Contents

chips in cheese

What Will Happen If You Eat Smelly Cheese?

It depends.

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Aside from your typical kitchen conundrums such as what to do with undercooked cheesecake or what to do with undercooked brownies, what will happen if you eat smelly cheese just might top your list of kitchen questions because it could have a direct affect on your health.

We hear you! But just because your cheese stinks, doesn’t mean it’s old.

There are many kinds of cheese, including parmesan cheese, that have a naturally stinky odor.

If, however, your cheese smells particularly strong or has a rancid odor, you may want to check the expiration date.

If you find that your cheese is indeed old, you may experience the following symptoms as a result of eating old cheese:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Cramping
  • Loose Stools
  • Vomiting

What Does Expired Cheese Taste Like?

When cheese goes bad, its taste transforms from delightful to unpleasant. Bacteria and mold break down proteins and fats, causing off-flavors like sourness, bitterness, or a burning sensation. The taste of spoiled cheese varies by type – hard cheeses become overly sharp and crumbly, soft cheeses develop an ammonia-like taste, and blue cheeses turn excessively bitter. Consuming off-tasting cheese can lead to digestive issues such as nausea and diarrhea. If the cheese tastes foul or causes a burning sensation, it’s best to discard it. Trust your taste buds – if it doesn’t taste right, don’t risk it!

What Should I Do If I Ate Bad Cheese?

If you eat bad cheese, you may not need to do anything. Unless you have severe stomach or gastrointestinal issues, it isn’t necessary to seek medical help.

If, however, you find that you are vomiting, experiencing loose stools, or are noticing other unsavory symptoms from having consumed bad cheese, you may consider avoiding foods for a few hours then following up with something dry and bland–such as toast, rice or crackers–until you can get your stomach settled.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Cheese?

Depending on how old the cheese was, you could end up with food poisoning.

Though eating moldy or otherwise expired cheese doesn’t always hurt you, you could end up experiencing digestive issues as a result of your consumption of the bad cheese.

Never continue to eat cheese that is making you sick, even if it seems okay in terms of taste and texture.

How Long After Eating Bad Cheese Do You Get Sick?

Eating bad cheese can manifest gnarly symptoms within 24 hours of consumption.

If you suspect that your cheese is the culprit, quickly discard it, especially if there is a risk that others living with you might consume the cheese as well.

If your cheese seems fresh and tastes okay, make sure it is actually the cheese that has caused you to become ill and not something else.

Can Bad Cheese Make You Sick?

Yes, it can.

Bad cheese can make you sick the same way any expired, old, or rotten food can. The symptoms that present themselves are typically referred to as “food poisoning”.

If you have a high fever, bloody stool, or if you cannot seem to keep down liquids, you may want to give your local doctor a call to see what can be provided for treatment.

pizza with melted cheese

Is It Bad to Eat Cheese That Smells Bad?

Not necessarily.

Remember, cheese that smells bad is a common and natural occurrence, and thus, isn’t always a cause for concern in most cases.

Still, there are times when the odor of cheese may seem particularly strong or “off” in some way. In this case, we would recommend that you avoid eating the cheese.

Cheese Smells Sour

If you smell your cheese and it smells sour, it could be that your cheese has gone bad.

Because cheese is a dairy product, the sour smell it produces when it goes bad can help you determine when it’s time to throw your cheese away.

Be sure, however, that it isn’t just you; sometimes illness and pregnancy can distort your sense of smell making the cheese smell like something it actually doesn’t.

Cheese wheels

Accidentally Ate Moldy Cheese

What Happens If You Eat Moldy Cheese

It could be that nothing happens to you if you eat moldy cheese.

Contrary to what most believe, not all molds are harmful. However, if you’ve got sensitivities to mold, you may experience unwanted symptoms such as runny nose, post-nasal drip, or frequent sneezing.

Don’t have a mold allergy? You may still experience gastrointestinal issues after eating moldy cheese, but this will depend on how much mold was consumed.

Shredded Cheese Smells Bad, But No Mold

If your shredded cheese smells unusual but does not have mold, you might not want to use it. Though mold hasn’t shown itself, the “off” smell of your cheese might be an indication that you need to steer clear of it.

Accidentally Ate Moldy Mozzarella Cheese

If you accidentally eat moldy mozzarella cheese, you should look for signs of illness within the next 24 hours.

Accidentally Ate Moldy Provolone Cheese

If no illness occurs within 24 hours of having consumed moldy provolone cheese, you shouldn’t need to worry.

Accidentally Ate Moldy Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper Jack cheese is delicious. But covered in mold, it might give you stomach issues and symptoms of food poisoning.

If You Cut Mold Off Food, Is It Safe to Eat?

When dealing with moldy food, especially cheese, it’s crucial to understand the safety implications. Some mold types are harmless, while others can be dangerous or toxic. For hard cheeses, cut off at least 1 inch around and below the moldy spot. However, for soft cheeses, discard the entire piece as mold has likely spread throughout. Cutting off the moldy part doesn’t guarantee removal of all spores and toxins. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and throw out the affected food to avoid potential health risks.

I Ate Bad Cheese and My Stomach Hurts. What now?

If you ate bad cheese recently and notice that your stomach hurts, try drinking a soothing tea or eating a few crackers to see if that helps settle things. You may even wish to try over-the-counter remedies such as Pepto-Bismol for additional comfort.

If these remedies don’t work, you’ll want to call your local doctor for more information on how best to alleviate your symptoms.

Identifying Spoiled Cheese

When it comes to determining whether your cheese has gone bad, your senses are your best friends. Here are some tips to help you spot spoiled cheese:

  • Look for mold or discoloration: Check your cheese for any signs of fuzzy green, blue, or white patches growing on the surface. If you notice a change in color, such as a creamy white cheddar turning yellowish or grayish, it’s time to discard it.
  • Give it a sniff: Trust your nose! If the cheese smells sour, ammonia-like, or just plain funky (and not in the good way that some fancy cheeses do), it’s likely past its prime. A strong, off-putting odor indicates that harmful bacteria have taken over.
  • Feel the texture: Spoiled cheese often has a different texture compared to fresh cheese. If a formerly firm block of cheese has become slimy, sticky, or wet to the touch, it’s probably no longer safe to eat. Similarly, if hard cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino have developed a tough, dry texture or have started to crumble apart easily, they may have gone bad.
  • Consider the type of cheese: Some cheeses, like Brie or Camembert, naturally have a soft, runny texture. Use your best judgment and consider the other signs of spoilage before making a decision.

Causes of Cheese Spoilage

Proper storage is crucial for maintaining cheese quality and preventing spoilage. However, even with the best intentions, cheese can still go bad. The main culprits behind cheese spoilage are bacterial growth and storage mistakes.

Harmful bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, making improper storage a breeding ground for spoilage. To combat this, store cheese in the refrigerator at the appropriate temperature, wrapped tightly in wax paper or aluminum foil. Use clean utensils when handling cheese to avoid introducing new bacteria.

Improper storage, such as leaving cheese out at room temperature or storing it in airtight containers, can lead to moisture buildup, creating perfect conditions for mold and bacteria. Store cheese in breathable packaging, like wax paper or specialized cheese paper, and change plastic wrap frequently.

Cross-contamination is another factor in cheese spoilage. Storing cheese alongside strong-smelling foods or near spoiled items can cause it to absorb unwanted odors and flavors or transfer harmful bacteria. Dedicate a specific area in your refrigerator for storing cheese, away from pungent foods, and regularly clean your fridge to maintain a hygienic environment.

Preventing Cheese Spoilage

To keep your cheese fresh and delicious for as long as possible, it’s essential to master the art of proper storage. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can prevent spoilage and enjoy your favorite cheeses without worry.

Refrigeration is Key

Your refrigerator is your best friend when it comes to preserving cheese. Most cheeses should be stored between 35°F and 45°F (1.6°C to 7.2°C) to maintain their quality and prevent bacterial growth. If your fridge has a dedicated cheese drawer, take advantage of it! These compartments are designed to maintain the ideal humidity level for cheese storage.

Choose the Right Container

While it may be tempting to keep your cheese in its original packaging, this isn’t always the best option for long-term storage. Instead, opt for airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to minimize exposure to air and moisture. If you’re using plastic wrap, be sure to change it frequently to avoid trapping excess moisture against the cheese’s surface.

Separate Strong Cheeses

If you’re a fan of pungent cheeses like blue cheese or Limburger, it’s crucial to store them separately from milder varieties. These strong-smelling cheeses can easily impart their flavors and aromas to other foods, so keep them in their own airtight containers or wrapped tightly in foil.

Shelf Life of Different Cheese Types After Opening

The shelf life of cheese varies based on the type and storage method. Soft cheeses like Brie and Ricotta last 1-2 weeks in the fridge after opening, while hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Parmesan can last 3-6 weeks when stored properly.

Soft Cheeses Have Shorter Shelf Lives

Soft cheeses have higher moisture content, making them more prone to bacterial growth. Watch for signs of spoilage like mold, sour smell, or slimy texture, and discard if noticed.

Hard Cheeses Last Longer

Hard cheeses have lower moisture content, resisting mold and bacteria better. Wrap them tightly in wax or parchment paper and store in an airtight container to extend shelf life.

Proper Storage is Key

Always refrigerate cheese at 40°F (4°C) or below in a dedicated area to prevent cross-contamination. If mold appears on hard cheeses, cut off at least 1 inch around and below the moldy spot. For soft cheeses or extensively moldy hard cheeses, discard them entirely.

Extending Your Cheese’s Shelf Life

Keep your favorite cheeses fresh and delicious with these game-changing strategies and tips. From basic storage hacks to advanced preservation techniques, we’ll help you master the art of keeping cheese in tip-top shape.

Invest in the Right Tools

Prolong your cheese’s life by investing in airtight containers or a vacuum sealer. These handy gadgets create the perfect environment for your cheese, slowing down mold and bacteria growth.

Get Creative with Wrapping

Keep cheese fresh without fancy storage devices by getting creative with wrapping techniques. Use breathable materials like wax paper or parchment paper to protect cheese from drying out or absorbing unwanted flavors.

Freeze for Later

Don’t let excess cheese go to waste – freeze it! Many types of cheese, especially hard varieties, freeze beautifully. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, place in a freezer bag, and thaw in the fridge when ready to enjoy.

Oil Up Your Cheese

Rubbing a thin layer of olive oil or coconut oil on hard cheeses like Parmesan can prevent mold growth and keep them fresh longer. Store oiled-up cheese in an airtight container in the fridge.

Creative Ways to Use Cheese Before It Goes Bad

Just because your cheese is nearing its expiration date doesn’t mean it has to go to waste. There are plenty of delicious and practical ways to use up that cheese before it’s too late. Get creative in the kitchen and try out some of these tasty ideas.

Whip Up Some Cheesy Recipes

One of the best ways to use cheese that’s on its way out is by incorporating it into your favorite recipes. Mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, enchiladas, pizza – the options are endless! Shred or slice that cheese and put it to work in a mouth-watering dish the whole family will love.

Freeze It for Later

Did you know many types of cheese can be frozen? If you’ve got more cheese than you can handle at the moment, consider throwing it in the freezer. Hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss tend to freeze best. Just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place it in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge and enjoy.

Get Creative with Cheese-Based Dishes

Cheese makes a fantastic addition to all sorts of dishes beyond the usual suspects. Try adding some shredded cheddar to your morning scrambled eggs, sprinkling feta over your salad at lunchtime, or melting a slice of Swiss over your dinner veggies. You can even make a simple cheese sauce to drizzle over baked potatoes or steamed broccoli. The possibilities are truly endless!

Eating Bad Cheese FAQs

How long does cheese last in the fridge?

That will depend on the cheese.
Some cheeses, like parmesan, may stay good for up to 6 weeks after openin, even past expiry. Others, like fresh mozzarella, will only last 7-10 days. Be sure to do your research before consuming any cheese that has sat in your fridge for awhile, especially if it is showing signs of spoilage. 

How to tell if cheese is bad?

A quick way to determine whether or not your cheese is bad is by observing the following: taste, texture and smell.
Of these three categories, note any changes you see that deviate from when the cheese was fresh. And remember–when it doubt, throw it out! 

Eating Bad Cheese Won’t Always Send You to the Hospital…

Besides a few stomach cramps, you may find that you don’t experience any symptoms at all after eating bad cheese. But if you do experience severe symptoms, it isn’t a bad idea to give your local healthcare provider a call.

Concerning cheese storage and safety, remember to keep your cheese tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

Always discard cheese that has a strange taste, texture, or smell to avoid illness related to eating expired cheese.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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