If you have spices that are made in this location, they could be upwards of 25 years old.
Credit: Photo: Greg DuPree

We all know too well that one of the most overlooked areas of our kitchens is the spice cabinet—which shouldn't be the case, given that some cleaning and regular maintenance could save you from horrifying bug infestations.

It can be hard to tell when spices go out of date, since there’s usually no telltale odor or outward signs when they’re past their prime. But, over time, your spices can lose their signature flavor or potential health benefits, so it’s important to keep your spice pantry updated.

Thankfully, one of the nation's leading spice manufacturers is making it easy for you to get a jumpstart on your spring cleaning with a handy tip.

On Friday, McCormick shared some information on its Facebook page that might save you from eating really old, expired spices lurking in your kitchen cabinet. The post has been shared over 2,000 times—and, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be rifling through your spices soon after learning this tidbit of information.

"When's the last time you took a peek into your spice cabinet? You should see 'Hunt Valley, MD' on McCormick labels," the brand wrote. "If you see 'Baltimore, MD,' the spice is at least 25 years old."

On the now-viral post, a few home cooks shared their surprise when they discovered their spices had been in their kitchens for more than a quarter of a century.

TODAY reports that McCormick, a Maryland-based company that moved to Hunt Valley from Baltimore, also says to throw out any of their spices found in metal tins. Besides their black pepper, the popular spice brand hasn't used tins since the early 1990s.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Representatives from McCormick told The Daily Meal that they've seen many cases where customers have kept spices way past their expiration date. You can tell if your spices are too old if they aren’t aromatic, or if they fail to provide a flavor boost to food.

"Check the freshness date on the bottom or side of the bottle to help keep track of when it’s past its prime. Or, check the spices for color and aroma — look for vibrant color and strong aroma.”

The Daily Meal also reached out to the Food and Drug Administration to ask the question on everyone's minds: What exactly happens when you eat expired spices? FDA spokesman Peter Cassell says that spices can last up to two years if you store them properly, but there's a small chance you can avoid getting sick by actually cooking with them.

“In many cuisines, spices are added during cooking rather than at the table, and this heat treatment can reduce pathogen contamination depending on the length of cooking and temperature. It’s also important to follow basic food handling practices—cook, chill, clean, and separate.”

At any rate, we're betting it's high time your spice rack saw some action. Here's a guide to all the essentials you'll need when you finally get around to cleaning that under-the-radar spot in your kitchen.