Here's How To Know If Your Ketchup Has Gone Bad

Ketchup is one of those things that you always just kind of have. Open your fridge and there it is, sitting on a shelf with your other condiments. Sure, you know you've been out of it before and have definitely replaced the bottle semi-recently, but can you honestly remember when you last did that? And when did you get those little packets that come with take-out?

We all know sell-by and best-by dates are notoriously unscientific (according to Science Daily, the Institute of Food Technologists state that even dates labeled "use-by" are more of a suggestion based on quality than actual food safety), so using those numbers as a cut-off point could lead you to throwing away perfectly good condiments, wasting money and food. Luckily for you, there are a number of signs that your ketchup has gone bad, so you can stop tossing those perfectly good, if a little aged bottles.

Old ketchup will begin to look different

According to Insider, a good rule for ketchup is that once opened, it should last around six months if you keep it in the fridge. If you're one of those people who hates cold ketchup, we hope you eat a lot of it. The outlet states that at room temperature, ketchup will only last one month after it is opened. Eat by Date suggests that some ketchups, however, like national brand Heinz, can still be safe to eat a year after you've opened them, as long as they're stored properly — upright in their original bottles and at a cold enough temperature.

You can usually tell by looking at ketchup if it has gone bad. Eat by Date says that if you are regularly using your ketchup and notice it has begun to separate and has a watery layer on the surface, it is still safe to eat but might soon be spoiled. If you don't use it regularly, you should probably just get a new bottle once you notice this, as you can't tell how long it has been separated for. Ketchup also becomes thicker and darker in color as it ages, more of a maroon than the bright red you traditionally think of when you picture ketchup. They assert that a change in color with any food is a good sign that it is getting old and will taste different, so once this happens, it's time to buy a new bottle.