When is the Actual Expiration Date On Milk?

Milk Expiration Date

With busy schedules, it’s hard to keep track of the different foods in our pantries and refrigerators. It can be extremely dangerous to consume food that is past its’ expiration date. If you eat something that has expired, you could get food poisoning, which is not a nice way to spend 24 hours.

To avoid having their customers get food poisoning, many companies will actually put “sell by” dates that are before the actual expiration date of the product. These sell by dates are used to tell consumers the optimal time to purchase a product. So what is the actual expiration date on milk?

For some products, like milk, it’s pretty easy to tell: the smell and texture will change significantly. This article will answer when the actual expiration date on your milk is, so that you can avoid wasting money as well as a trip to the emergency room.

No standardized date

Around 90 percent of Americans throw out food prematurely, causing a lot of food to be wasted. However, the federal government doesn’t actually regulate the date on your food or drinks, except for baby formula. Some states have a sell-by date, which is the last date that a store can legally sell the milk. Other states have a use-by date, which indicates the date that the milk will have its peak flavor. Confused? You’re not the only one!

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How to avoid having your milk go bad

The pasteurization of milk kills most of the harmful bacteria. However, it’s important to follow certain precautions so avoid it from going bad sooner than expected. Don’t leave the milk out of the refrigerator for long. Always keep it on a shelf. The inside of the door of your fridge has the most temperature fluctuation, which means that the milk will go bad faster.

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Actual Expiration Date on Milk

The general consensus is that, if you refrigerate your milk properly, then the carton of whole milk will expire about five days after the “sell-by” date. If your milk is reduced in fat, your milk will expire a bit faster. Whole milk often goes sour, whereas skim milk will often go bitter. “Ultra pasteurized” milk will also have a longer shelf life than other types of milk.

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So five days after the sell-date is the general rule of thumb. However, if you have a weakened immune system, it’s probably safest to cut those five days down by a day or so. What happens if you end up drinking sour milk? Nothing really. If you drink milk that has clearly gone bad, you might get sick, but it is extremely unlikely that you’ll die from drinking bad milk.

+ Bonus Knowledge Nuggets

Did you know that your refrigerator temperature should be kept at about 34-40 degree fahrenheit? Warm temperatures allow bacteria to develop more easily. You can actually freeze your milk for up to three months. But it will be lumpy and yellow when it defrosts (though safe to drink).

Expiration Dates Don’t Mean What You Think

Expiration dates tell you when food tastes best, not when it isn’t safe. In this video, Adam Conover, CollegeHumor’s resident know-it-all, takes on society’s biggest misconceptions about expiration dates on food labels.

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