Everything You Need To Know About Milk Shelf Life
When purchasing milk, you will look at the milk shelf life, and you might wonder how long your milk will retain freshness depending on the sell-by date.
You also might wish to know how long your milk will stay fresh once opened, and how long milk is good past the expiration date.
Since no one wants to waste food, it is important to uncover how long that milk will really last you once you make the purchase.
What is the “Sell By” Date?
The sell-by date listed on a container of milk is simply the date that the manufacturer of the milk assures the milk is of quality, but it is not a safety date – it is also the date that many retailers will pull the product from their shelves. However, you can safely consume milk a few days, sometimes up to a week, after the sell-by date, without any health concerns.
If you store milk properly, then safety will not be a concern if it’s in a reasonable time period after this date has come and gone.
What is the “Best By” Date?
Many people assume that once a product is past the best by the date listed on the container, that it is unsafe to consume and needs to be thrown out promptly. However, like the sell-by date above, you can safely consume milk past expiration date for up to a week in most cases, without any negative effects.
If the milk has been properly stored, does not smell or appear off, chances are it is still safe to consume, even if it is past the milk’s expiration date.
How Does Packaging Affect the Shelf Life of Milk?
The type of packaging used can determine how long a milk is shelf stable. Milk that is transported and distributed in glass bottles tends to last longer because glass is non-porous and does not leech flavours into the milk.
Glass bottles also tend to stay colder longer during transport, which allows the milk to remain fresher than if it were placed into plastic bottles or jugs.
Shelf Life and Types of Milk
Some milk has different shelf lives than other kinds of milk, so it is important to be sure to take care to acknowledge the type of milk that you have. Once opened, all milk tends to last between 5-7 days in the refrigerator, even past the sell by or use by dates on the packaging.
Unopened milk can be used past the sell by and use by dates, as well. For example, skim milk and reduced fat milk will both last for 7 days, while whole milk lasts between 5-7 days. Unopened lactose-free milk and non-fat milk will last for up to 10 days.
How to Properly Store Milk
When you purchase milk, the first step to keeping it fresh past the sell by or best by date is to ensure that you store it properly. Once you get home, you can work to extend the shelf life of your milk by following a few steps that will keep your milk fresh past the expiration date.
Since unrefrigerated milk will spoil faster than refrigerated milk, it is vital to the shelf life of your milk to keep it in a cold environment, such as a refrigerator with a temperature setting of roughly 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The bottom shelf is also the ideal place to store milk, because it tends to be the coldest spot in the refrigerator, which will help the milk stay cold, as opposed to storing it in the door, which is exposed to the warm air in the room more often.
How Long Can You Leave Milk At Room Temperature?
It is also important to keep in mind that even according to the standards of the Food and Drug Administration, milk and other foods that are to remain at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit should never be left out on a counter or in a room temperature environment for more than two hours, as it can cause the product to spoil.
By leaving the milk out for extended periods of time, bacteria can begin to grow, which will cause milk spoilage faster. If it is above 90 degrees, milk should not be left out longer than one hour.
Other Ways to Extend the Shelf Life of Milk
There are other things that you can do to extend milk’s shelf life, such as picking up the milk and other cold food items last at the grocery store, bringing them home in a cooler or insulated bag, and returning your milk directly to the refrigerator after pouring a glass, instead of allowing it to sit on a counter.
You can also add 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda to a gallon of milk once opened, as the baking soda reacts with the milk to keep it fresher longer.
How Do I Know If Milk Has Gone Bad?
If milk has been sitting out at room temperature for over two hours, especially at warmer temperatures such as in the summer, it gives bacteria a great place to grow. Often, you can tell milk has gone bad by smelling it – if the milk has a sour odour, chances are it has spoiled. Milk can also get a bit thicker once it has gone rotten or spoiled, so be sure to check the consistency of the milk, too.
Since many bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses, it is important (and better for your health!), if you find other uses for the milk if you suspect that it has spoiled.
What Can I Do With Milk Once It’s Spoiled?
If you do have milk that has gone bad or milk that is further past the expiration date then you want to use, you can still do other things with the milk to use it up, so that you don’t waste it. If your milk has gone a bit sour, try using it to make biscuits, waffles, or pancakes. It can also be used to make yoghurt or cottage cheese at home, instead of spending the extra money and purchasing it at the store.
Milk also has calming properties, so you can use it to help soothe rashes or on patches or poison ivy. Adding a bit of milk to your bath can make your skin feel better, particularly if your skin is dry or itchy.
Stanpac Provides Sustainable Dairy Packaging Solutions
At Stanpac, we know dairy packaging better than anyone. We’ve been providing high-quality packaging solutions to dairy companies worldwide for more than 60 years.
A commitment to the environment is engrained in our core values. We work to ensure all of our products are durable, sustainable, and eco-friendly.
Using state-of-the-art equipment, we produce glass milk bottles in a variety of sizes and shapes, along with ice cream packaging, wholesale containers, and custom glass bottle printing.
Get in touch with us now for packaging options, or browse our online store for wholesale products.