Does Metamucil go bad?

I went into my medicine chest to do a clean out. I have had a bottle of Metamucil caplets in there forever, and I always replaced them (just in cast). Well, today, I foolishly looked at the date on the bottom of the bottle, and it read 05/2006.

May 2006! Six full years of bad fiber!

But is it? I know some perishables have expire dates on the product and for good reason, but is this one of them? Can I get sick, deathly ill, or perhaps the fiber will work in reverse of how it’s intended?

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Yes, I know you are not a doctor, and even of you are, you would never suggest anything be taken after the date on the bottle, I would never point my finger at anyone who said it was ok to take, and then take it… And look for scapegoats if my stomach erupted. So, no lawsuits will be coming your way. Ok? :wink:

Ftr, I believe I used this medication successfully about 3 years ago, so I guess that answers my question for 3 years. But how about now?

Do I pitch the bottle and buy a new one, or can I stick these in the guest bathroom for any overnight visits from the in-laws?

Understanding Best-By dates:

It is the date after which the retailer will no longer guarantee the product. It has nothing to do with how long it remains effective, how long it tastes good, how long it looks pretty, or how long before it explodes. Generally, it is the shortest reasonable time that a product will retain a fresh-enough aspect to satisfy a fussy customer, under the usual circumstances under which it will remain on the shelf. Everything lasts longer. Some things last much long. A few things last forever.

As for Metamucil, it is nothing but a source of fiber. Fiber is fiber.

I’m pretty sure that fiber has a near-indefinite shelf life as long as it is kept dry; it isn’t like Metamucil is medicine, and even for medicine, it has been found that many drugs will still be good even years after the expiration date (there are some exceptions, like tetracycline):

Of course, if it is a critical drug, I would be on the safe side and not use it once it has expired, and even for Metamucil it may develop a stale taste (if it is the powdered version).

Would mold be a concern with Metamucil?

Or do the capsules prevent mold growth?

Capsules do not generally prevent mold growth, and the moment a container of anything that may have been sterilized is open, it is no longer considered to be sterile.

I really wish people would stop linking to that FDA/military study: it is not nearly as thorough as many people think it is and it doesn’t give straight up answers about any given products. What were the 10% that weren’t safe and effective? Isn’t that a bigger number to be concerned about?

There is reason to believe that regulated food and drugs might be able to last longer than their label date (they aren’t time bombs), but no one has ever tested it in a systematic way. There is no data to tell us what happens a day, a week, a month, a year, 10 years, a century after the best-before date, because no one is required to test it and no one cares to do it voluntarily because it’s a hell of a lot of work.

No one will ever be able to answer the question you are asking without testing that particular bottle and seeing how it compares to it’s release specifications. Even so, that won’t tell you whether someone else’s bottle, stored in different conditions, might be good or not. As someone who has done this sort of lab testing (stability testing for new drug development, clinical trials and commercial release), I can 100% absolutely tell you that some drugs do go bad. You can see impurities and degradation products gradually increase over the testing timeframe…they just stay within acceptable limits during the timeframe.

I never understood why people always seem to want to keep products that they don’t even use forever. How long do you let the milk that you didn’t want to drink sit in your fridge before you chuck it?

Simple logic would dictate that it’s more than “might be”, it is “certain to be”. The stated best-by date is the most conservative of all possible dates, the date by which ALL packages are CERTAIN and guaranteed to remain safe. The date on which one or two might begin to show reduced quality is designated as the best-by date, and only after that does very slow and gradual and incremental decline begin to set in over a period weeks, months, even years.

Obviously, if something is best-by dated for July 24 2012, the store stands behind a guarantee that ever single one of them is still good. What suddenly happens to the entire two year old stock at midnight tonight, that only some of them “might be” spared and last until tomorrow or the next day?

Even in the case of critical pharmaceutical drugs, the expiration date is set for the most conservative possible date, with a guarantee that every single one of them will remain safe until that date, and by simple logic, much (but variably) longer than that.

Drugs don’t have a best-by date: it’s a straight up expiry date with the criteria being that all values were within acceptable limits during all phases of stability testing. The maximum stability testing period is 3 years in most cases, so that’s where package expiry dates are derived from. Shorter dates usually mean there were issues in some long-term studies or temperature extremes or whatever and they are, of course, being conservative.

You’re right that logic says they are certain to last longer; I was typing quickly. They aren’t time bombs :slight_smile:

Thing is, let’s say we change stability guidelines to 4 years…you get another year, but when it comes to the expiration date, the reasoning is still the same: past that date, we don’t know. The industry doesn’t project data into the future, so the answer to the question remains the same. 5 years? 10 years? After the expiry date, it always reverts back to we don’t know, no one has studied it.

This is my SDMB one-trick topic: I’m always answering when these questions come up, and I’ve noticed I tend to get shorter and less detailed as the years go by. I find myself simultaneously unable to resist answering, and really, really annoyed at “having” to do so :slight_smile: Sorry if some people read snark in my post, or if I’m not detailed enough. Search my name and posts around 2004-2006…that’s when I probably gave the most thorough answers :smiley:

I feel shamed. >:-o

Metamucil is made from a seed. Seeds may have a little oil in them that could go rancid. So old Metamucil probably wouldn’t be ineffective or harmful, but perhaps it would start to taste yucky.