What is the Actual Shelf Life of a Clif Bar?

If you are into an active life; running, hiking, cycling, or any other sport, you burn calories fast and need energy fast. Clif bars are designed to fuel your muscles for exercise that lasts for an hour or more.

They should ideally be consumed 2 to 3 hours before you begin your exercise. They are a convenient boost to fuel your muscles. They are lightweight, and do not take up a lot of space in a hiking pack, day pack, or pocket, but they pack a punch.

close-up of Clif bar shelf life writing on packaging
Close-up of Clif bar shelf life writing on packaging. They say these are good until December of this year. these just arrived today (it’s June), so I’m left with about6 months of shelf life – possibly more if I store them right.

But what is the actual shelf life of a Clif bar?

Clif bars have a shelf life of 1 year from the date of purchase. However, testing has shown that they’re still edible more than 2 years after the ‘best before’ date on the packaging (if stored away from heat, and wrappers are intact).

They can be purchased individually, in packs of 6, 12, 24, or 36, or as mini bars.

How Do You Know if a Clif Bar is Edible?

The ingredients in a Clif bar that spoil are the oils and sugar. These will turn rancid over time. As the oils and sugar go bad, the smell, appearance, and taste of the bar will be remarkably different.

A fresh Clif bar will be glossy and soft. If the bar is squishy and has an oily feel, it is not fresh and should not be consumed.

If the packaging is damaged, the bar may be off or it may have been tampered with. I do not recommend that you eat it.

Expired Clif Bar Eating Expired Food 2 Year Old Clif Bar Still Good To Eat?

If the bar has been exposed to bacteria, the packaging may become inflated and springy. If the package is inflated – like a balloon – be wary, it is likely to be spoiled.

Whether the packaging is intact or not, inspect the bar carefully when you open it. Over time, the bar will dry out. If it looks dry and does not have its usual feel, it is not going to be good to eat.

The best way to judge if your Clif bar is edible or not is to do the sniff test. If the packaging is intact and you get a nasty whiff when you open it, throw that bar away!

I do not have a strong stomach; I gag very easily. If it does not pass the sniff test, that is all the encouragement I need to throw it away.

If you are brave enough to taste the bar for a final verdict, go for it – but I do not recommend going much further than a tiny taste. If the taste is not what you were expecting, if it tastes a bit odd, or if it tastes downright nasty, spit it out and throw the bar away.

Finally, if the bar is two or more years past the best before date it is safer not to eat it.

two Clif bar boxes
two chocolate chip Clif bar boxes

What is in a Clif Bar?

Clif bars are primarily higher in carbohydrates and sugar to fuel your muscles.

Clif bars contain:

  • Organic brown rice
  • Organic rolled oats
  • Organic cane syrup
  • Organic oat fiber
  • Barley malt extract
  • Sea salt
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Soy lecithin
  • Organic roasted soybeans
  • Organic soy flour
  • Rice flour
  • Organic high oleic sunflower oil
  • Unsweetened chocolate
  • Organic cinnamon
  • Cane sugar
  • Cocoa butter
  • Natural flavors
  • Vitamins and minerals

Clif Bars Flavors

Clif bars come in a wide range of flavors. There is a taste for everyone from the javaholics to the chocoholics. The flavors are:

  • Coconut chocolate chip 
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Chocolate brownie
  • Chocolate chip
  • Peanut butter with dark chocolate
  • Cool mint chocolate
  • Blueberry crisp
  • Coconut chip peanut crunch
  • Nuts and seeds
  • White chocolate macadamia nut
  • Peanut butter banana with dark chocolate
  • Sierra trail mix
  • Oatmeal Raisin Walnut
  • Chocolate chip peanut crunch
  • Peanut toffee buzz

And a range of specialized coffee and sweet and salty flavors

What Nutritional Value is in a Clif Bar?

I am going to break this down to give you an idea of the nutritional value per bar versus how much of your daily diet each value represents.

One Clif bar contains:

  1. 250 calories (of the recommended daily allowance of 2000 – 3000 calories for adult men, and 1600 to 2400 calories for adult women)
  2. 45 grams (of carbohydrates of the recommended daily allowance of 225 to 325 grams)
  3. 9 grams of protein (of the recommended daily allowance of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight)
  4. 21 grams of sugar (of the recommended daily allowance of no more than 30 grams for adults)
  5. 5 grams of fat (of the recommended daily allowance of 44 to 77 grams if you eat 2000 calories in a day)

The carbohydrates are what fuel muscles, and give you strength and endurance for long, drawn out, intense exercise periods.

How to Maximize Shelf Life

To ensure your Clif bar stays fresh for longer, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Check the packaging while you are in the store before you purchase it. If the packaging seems inflated or if there are any tears in the packaging, do not buy it.
  2. Check the expiration date before you buy, do not buy bars that have surpassed their best before date or that are near expiration.
  3. Store your Clif bars in a cool, dry place, well away from heat.
  4. Storing them in a closed carry-all will ensure they stay safe from scavengers.

Clif Bars Are a Reliable Emergency Food

Clif bars are a great way to boost your energy levels; however, they are not nutritious enough to sustain you. They are not to be used as meal replacements.

As a hiker, I always packed 2 bars per person per day. We did not go over that because in excess they can make you feel really ill.

I also feed them to my father when he is feeling a bit run down, and needs a boost to get him up and moving.

Keeping them stored in your car is a definite no-no, especially if you live in a very hot climate. Heat destroys them!

It is not recommended to feed protein bars to kids. Just as with power drinks, the nutritional values will be excessive for children. You will definitely have your kids bouncing off the walls.

If your child is ill and needs a boost, give them the mini bar. It has the same content, but a smaller payload.

It is safe to buy in bulk and store them for long term consumption, provided you store them away from heat. When you replace them, only open the new package when the last bar from the older package is finished.

2 thoughts on “What is the Actual Shelf Life of a Clif Bar?”

  1. Thanks for the wonderful article. Have you noticed a change in the clif bar formula recently? I regularly purchase the chocolate chip variety and the last 4 boxes (48 bars) have been thicker with a dryer more burnt taste that I don’t fancy. I worried a formal recipe change has occurred and wonder if anyone else has noticed the same. I live in Toronto.

    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Mike, every now and then I get some that are unpleasant. Sometimes, they have expired but more often than not, they have been transported incorrectly, left in the sun, or spent hours on a hot truck. The best thing you can do is call their local support office and report the issue. Sometimes they will ask you to return what you have to the store you bought them from and either replace them or give you vouchers. They will then look at the process of when they were made to when they landed in your shopping trolley to fix the problem.

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