How Long Does Milk Last?

Question: How long does milk last?

Answer: Milk receives the most attention in regards to spoilage out of all the dairy products and maybe out of all foods or beverages. If you have ever accidentally sipped spoiled milk, you probably realize why it is infamous for its spoilage. Naturally, determining how long milk lasts is a concern for many people.

Milk will generally last up to 5 days beyond the sell-by date printed on the container. This includes all pasteurized milk fat percentages (fat-free or skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk).

Freezing Milk

It is suitable to freeze milk to extend its shelf life.  You do not need a special container. Just use the original plastic container. If the milk container is full, you will want to pour out about 1 cup of milk to allow for the expansion that occurs when it freezes. Be sure the lid is sealed tightly before freezing.

We recommend freezing milk no longer than 3 months for the best taste once thawed. Always thaw milk in refrigerator, which can take 24 to 48 hours. You should expect separation of the milk solids/fat . Just give the container a good shake to reconstitute the milk back together and your good to go. Thaw milk will keep up to a week.

Milk Storage

The amount of time that milk will last depends greatly on how it is stored. It should be kept at 40°F or below and left in the refrigerator at all times. Obviously, it is Okay to briefly remove it from the refrigerator as needed for consumption. It is best to keep milk on the upper shelf where it is generally the coldest area of the refrigerator based on air flow patterns. Be sure not to push the milk too far back on the shelf to avoid potential freezing.

How Long Can Milk Sit Out?

Milk should not be left outside of the refrigerator in temperatures greater than 40°F for longer than two hours, according to foodsafety.gov. Milk should be discarded after the two hour mark. Milk should be discarded after one hour if temperatures are above 90°F. It is important to note that bacteria greatly increase in temperatures between 41°F and 140°F. The best policy is to return the milk to refrigerator as soon as possible.

How To Tell If Milk Has Gone Bag?

Smelling milk is the common test for spoilage. It will have a sour smell (often sharp and distinctive) if it has gone bad from bacteria growth. Obviously, the sour smell means that it will also taste sour and will be unpalatable.

Another sign is curdling or the formation of chunks. If it looks more like cottage cheese than milk, it is long past being fresh. Any sort of lumpiness in the texture and the milk is no longer good.

Discoloration is also a sign that milk has gone bad. Any signs of an unnatural color other than white and the product should be discarded.

If you have any doubts about milk being spoiled, it is best to err on the side of caution. Discard your milk if you have any doubts about its freshness. Common symptoms of a food-borne illness including cramps, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. These symptoms can be very severe and can require professional medical attention. It is better to be out a few dollars for a gallon or two of milk than potentially seriously risk your health.

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