How To Tell If Soda Has Gone Bad

Have you ever seen intact, full bottles of vintage soda in an antique or vintage store, caps still on, full to the brim with colored liquid, and thought, "Gee, I wonder if it's safe to drink that 40-year-old bottle of Coke?" Ever come across old bottles or cans of a discontinued soda like Jolt Cola for sale and wondered if it would be safe to give it a try and see what all the fuss was about? Well, the answer may surprise you. Those vintage soda bottles are not necessarily just a decoration.

That being said, we wouldn't advise you to go out and try the oldest soda you can find. For one thing, it may be flat, as according to the USDA, soda loses its carbonation over time. It also may not taste like much, as it likewise loses its flavor. "Most sodas have an acidic pH and will not support the growth of disease-causing bacteria," says University of Georgia food safety expert Carla Schwan, who adds that "there is no research supporting that a 41-year-old expired Coke is safe to drink."

But enough with the crazy old soda... what about soda that's just been sitting forgotten in the back of your pantry for a while? Can you drink that? How do you know if soda's gone bad?

Old soda is still mostly good soda

Soda, as it turns out, is remarkably hardy. But there are a few ways to tell before you even open the can if the soda will still be good. Look for extreme dents, a puffed out or bulging appearance, or signs of rust — and if you find any, ditch it immediately, according to the experts at Does It Go Bad. The same goes for any leakage, which will open the soda up to outside bacteria. While it's not the be-all-end-all it is with some foods, you might as well check the expiration date, too, while you are at it. The USDA recommends consuming soda within nine months of the expiration date for best quality (i.e. flavor and carbonation), and within only three months after the expiration date for diet sodas.

When it comes to guzzling down that questionable brew, you want to look for the same signs of spoilage you would in anything else: an off odor or change in color. But, this is highly unlikely to occur. The outside of the can is the part you should be most concerned about. If it looks okay, what's inside is probably okay, too.

So, while you should maybe avoid the 40-year-old Coke just to be on the safe side, that Dr. Pepper from last summer is probably still good.