About 40 years ago we purchased 35 pounds of dates, tightly packed in a plastic storage pail. From time to time we use them in cooking, such as stuffed cookies, cakes, etc. There is a certain amount of crystallization, but they are still edible. They are a very dark brown color now, and I’m not sure how dark they were when we first bought them. They are stored in a dry basement that never gets above 60-65 degrees in summer. Is there any danger in still eating them, cooked or uncooked? (L.B.)
That is an amazing amount of time to store food but so long as you are not seeing signs of mold (white fluffy material or other colors appearing on the surface of the dates), I believe they should be fine to eat. Since they are tightly packed, the moisture content may be relatively stable. I am copying this reply to my colleague, Linda Harris, who is a food safety expert to see if she has a different opinion.
I agree with Beth. They probably are not the best flavor quality. I personally find dates within a couple of months of harvest are at their best quality – delicate flavor, soft texture. However, with "aged dates" there shouldn't be any safety issues if they have been kept dry.