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Emergency Supplies

Shelf Life of Gatorade: When Do I Throw it Away?

What started as a test drink on the football field of the University of Florida, hence the “Gator” in the name, is now a global drink used by athletes and non-athletes for energy and electrolytes.

It’s even used to dunk players of championship teams. While the brand of Gatorade has a long lifespan, did you ever wonder what is the shelf life of Gatorade? Here are all the answers you need. 

Does Gatorade Go Bad?

Gatorade Original Thirst Quencher 3-Flavor Frost Variety Pack, 20 Ounce, 12 Count

We all want to get the most out of our money and hate to dispose of unused products (especially as part of emergency supplies), but sometimes the shelf-life of a product makes it dangerous.

The average person wastes one pound of food per day. Gatorade is best used by the date on the package. 

It will depend on how each person defines “go bad.” Gatorade states, “Gatorade is a shelf-stable product, not a perishable product like milk. Shelf-stable beverages are safe to consume past the recommended use-by date, but may experience slight changes in flavor or color as the product ages.”

The product might taste or look a little funny, but it won’t make you sick – even in an extended power outage

Is it OK to drink expired Gatorade?

Let’s look a little deeper into Gatorade’s claim that the drink is shelf-stable. That’s a designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

“In order to be shelf stable, perishable food must be treated by heat and/or dried to destroy foodborne microorganisms that can cause illness or spoil food. Food can be packaged in sterile, airtight containers. All foods eventually spoil if not preserved.”

Food and Drug Administration

The answer to this question of “does Gatorade expire?” also depends on how you choose to store it. Gatorade recommends storing unopened bottles in a cool, dry, clean location.

If you set it in direct sunlight for hours, leave it in the trunk of a car in extreme temperatures, or leave it in a very humid area, it could impact the quality of the drink, either before or after the expiration date. 

Even Gatorade states, “Improper storage, such as exposure to high temperatures, direct sunlight, humidity, etc., may reduce the recommended shelf life of any product.”

You should not take any risks with expired drinks, but if you choose to consume Gatorade past the date on the bottles, the taste and color could be impacted. It’s not an ideal long term emergency food unless consumed & replaced regularly.

How long is unopened Gatorade good for? What is the shelf life of Gatorade?

Another question which depends on how you treat the bottle of Gatorade. The company says it should be consumed 3-5 days after opening it if you’ve followed the proper directions on the bottle. This includes tightening the cap when you are done drinking it and putting it in a refrigerator.

Why does Gatorade need to be refrigerated after opening?

As soon as you are done drinking a portion of the Gatorade, it needs to be refrigerated between 40°(F) and 60°(F).

The bottle should be in the fridge within 24 hours of opening it. If you leave it in room temperature for extended periods of time without refrigerating, the taste and color could be impacted. 

Can I freeze Gatorade? 

You can, but Gatorade says it’s not best practice. 

“We do not recommend freezing Gatorade. If frozen or stored below 40 degrees F., the flavor emulsion may be damaged. Freezing doesn’t affect the efficacy of the product, only its sensory attributes. More importantly, the content of the bottle may expand under frozen conditions, resulting in distortion of the seal integrity of the plastic bottle.”

Gatorade/PepsiCo

If you’re looking to get a “slushy” appearance, you can still add ice cubes and Gatorade to a blender and make it that way without affecting taste.

Can you get sick from expired Gatorade?

Any food left long past the expiration date or with a compromised seal can get you sick. There are no reports of people getting sick from drinking expired Gatorade, but do you really want to test that boundary? 

Gatorade does work with retailers to offer deals throughout the year. We know you are money-savvy and sometimes get a bulk order of the brand.

“We work with our grocery partners to offer reduced pricing at scheduled intervals throughout the year. For high-quantity consumers, we offer Gatorade Thirst Quencher at club stores such as Sam’s, Price/Costco and BJ’s, where the price per bottle is typically lower.”

– Gatorade

If you got a great deal on a bulk of Gatorade, here are the best practices to avoid the risk of getting sick:

  • Store it in a cool, dry place
  • Put it on a shelf to prevent bugs or critters from getting to the bottles.
  • Check the bottle for any signs of melting or distortion that could come from being too hot or too cold before consuming.

If you have additional questions or feel sick after drinking expired Gatorade, call the Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your state. 

Should I be Worried about Getting Sick from BPAs?

BPA (aka bisphenol A) is a chemical used by some drink manufacturers to coat the inside lining of bottles. This chemical can seep into foods or drinks and has been linked to several different health issues in children and adults. Gatorade confirms on its website “Our bottles are not manufactured using BPA.”

What About Powdered Gatorade?

Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder, Lemon Lime, 76.5 Ounce,Pack of 1

You should keep the Gatorade powder sealed until you are ready to use it. The shelf-life of powder mixed with water, assuming you’ve used the proper amount, has the same shelf-life as the beverage.

Make sure it’s in a bottle you can close with an airtight seal and store in a refrigerator if you haven’t consumed it all. 

When you are using the one-serving size powder, mix it with water as soon as you open the package and drink it before, during, or after your activity. 

“Through following the powder instructions and correctly mixing with water, Gatorade powder mix offers the same efficacy and performance benefits of Gatorade Thirst Quencher in a bottle at the best value.”

Gatorade

Can I Reuse the Gatorade Bottles? 

Gatorade considers the bottles it provides as “disposable.” This is because of all the bacteria and germs that can get inside a bottle being opened and closed, mixed with body sweat and saliva.

There’s no good way to sterilize the bottles because washing them in hot water or tossing them in a dishwasher can distort or melt the bottle. 

Does that mean you should just throw the bottle away in the trash? No! The bottles are recyclable. 

“Gatorade plastic containers are recyclable (PET #1 polyethylene terephthalate); plastic caps are recyclable and are made of polypropylene (# 5 type plastic).”

– Gatorade

I Cannot Find the Expiration Date on my Gatorade Bottle

If you’ve scoured the bottle from top to bottom, inside and out, and still can’t find the expiration date, it’s understandable. 

The expiration date is stamped on the neck of the bottle, about an inch below the twist area. It’s stamped in clear/white-ish ink, making it very hard to see, especially with the clear drinks. Rotate the neck of the bottle in the sunlight or bright light and you should see it glow. 

Will my child be safe drinking Gatorade at school?

Gatorade made a pledge to restrict certain beverages at schools that are branded as energy drinks. It reads, in part, “PepsiCo will not offer caffeinated beverages that are marketed as energy drinks for sale to students in elementary, middle, or high schools.”

If your child’s school does offer a version of Gatorade, teach them how to look for the expiration date before drinking it. 

I still have more questions about Gatorade!

Gatorade is very transparent with its products and answers a lot of questions on the FAQ section of its website. If you don’t get the answer there, you can reach out to them through an online question form

PepsiCo offers a website section where you can search for individual Gatorade products to get information about the nutritional value and sugar content.