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Can Cereal Get Moldy?

Can Cereal Get Moldy?

Last Updated on October 16, 2022 by Jim Edwards

Cereal is a favorite breakfast staple in many households. However, every once in a while, there comes a box with cereal that smells or looks weird. It brings a question to your mind: can cereal get moldy?

Some people stay true to their childhood memories and continue to buy the same cereal brand for decades. Others try out new and varying flavors to keep their breakfast menu versatile. In either case, you should never eat moldy cereal!

In this article, we’ll go over the possibility of moldy cereal, as well as what an expiration date means for cereal boxes. If you are a true cereal fan, you’d want to know when it’s time to give up on your current cereal box and buy a new one.


Can Cereal Get Moldy?

Cereals with moisture can get moldy. Some have about 10-12% moisture that increases during the harvesting, processing, and storage phase. During these stages, molds such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Rhizopus, and Alternaria can grow.

The signs of cereal going moldy are quite visible too. There’s a strange discoloration that immediately gives away the bad quality of the cereal. You can take one look at the moldy cereal and throw it away. A great example of cereals with moisture is oats. They are at risk of mold growth whenever they are exposed to water.

how to tell if cereal has gone bad

Dry cereal also tends to get moldy. A cardboard box is usually protecting cereal from mold, but if moisture compromises the box, the cereal will be susceptible to mold.

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Do you see how cereal boxes are packed airtight, leaving no room for moisture to enter the packaging? The reason is to protect the cereal from mold.

Is it Okay to Eat Expired Cereal?

Can Cereal Stay Good for Long?

Not all cereals are created equal, so the answer varies based on the brand and the ingredients used. Some cereals can last weeks after their “best-by” dates, while others expire before they’re supposed to. It mostly depends on the ingredients.

Some ingredients are bound to lose quality over time. Nuts and whole wheat flour are some of them (due to moisture). Cereals with nuts or whole wheat flour have fats that make the cereal reek after exposure to air, heat, or light for a long duration. Such cereals are prone to go bad sooner than plain cereal.

Unopened cereal boxes have a good shelf life. They can stay fresh for almost a year past their expiration date. Opening these boxes reduces their shelf life, but not the quality. They can stay good for 6 months.

Best Alternatives to Regular Milk for Your Cereal

How to Tell If Cereal Is Moldy?

Generally, anything that looks or smells different than usual is not worth eating. You know your cereal better, so make sure to look at the flakes first before eating. If the flakes look moldy, you have to throw away the whole thing. You should take a whiff if you don’t see any visible signs. A weird smell will warn you about the bad cereal.

a spoonful of cereal and milk

How to Avoid Eating Moldy Cereal?

Eating moldy cereal will show signs of an allergic reaction, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. You can prevent these symptoms from causing you discomfort by taking care of the storage conditions.

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Keep the cereal in a cool and dry place so that moisture does not turn it moldy. A pantry is usually a dry place with moderate temperature. It will prevent the cereal from going bad quickly. You can also store cereal in the refrigerator if you want to keep it for an extended period.

close-up of fruit loops

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Mold?

What happens to your body when you eat expired or moldy foods? Is it really as bad as people think?


Cereal is a breakfast favorite in most American households, but people are often unaware that it can go bad. When moisture starts reacting with the cereal’s ingredients, mold grows and makes the cereal inedible. You can keep the cereal in a dry and cool place to avoid mold from destroying your breakfast.

Can Cereal Get Moldy – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Dry Cereal Get Moldy?

If dry cereal comes in contact with moisture, it will get moldy. Keeping dry cereal in the pantry keeps it safe and cool, away from mold infestation.

Why Is the Cereal Turning White?

Wheat cereal often turns white due to powdery mildew. It is caused by Blumeria graminis, a common damaging foliar disease. As long as your cereal has wheat, powdery mildew is likely to grow in it.

How Can You Tell If Cereal Has Gone Bad?

When cereal goes bad, the first thing you’ll notice is the smell. If it smells weird, you should throw the cereal away. Some cereals go bad, but there’s no smell, so you can look for mold or touch the flakes to check their quality. If it’s stale, the cereal is probably not edible anymore.

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