All rights reserved. “How long does milk last after the sell-by date?” and “How long can milk sit out?” are two completely different questions with completely different answers. This is the truth about expiration dates, safely keep many foods for months or even years past the 'best by' date, eat eggs for up to five weeks past the sell by date, mandated to have an expiration date is infant formula, expiration dates sound like gentle recommendations, some "expired foods" are donated to food pantries. Click here to browse! For many, ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ are essentially marketing terms. “This helps reduce accidental contamination and odors from other refrigerated products.”. How long does an unopened can of evaporated milk last at room temperature? For many, ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ are essentially marketing terms. Right now, I’m just tossing mine, but that seems like a waste. I admit that I am a real OCD about not using dairy products past their expiry date but I know there is no way we'll finish this soup and I hate the thought of throwing out the leftovers. As far as canned and dry, boxed foods go, it turns out that Freida Berlin, the inmate who built the underground bunker in the latest season of Orange Is The New Black, was right. Believe it or not, there’s even a specific location in your fridge where you should be keeping your milk—and it’s not on the door’s shelves. Everything else is voluntary. Milk producers apply these dates to give consumers an idea of when their milk will taste best, or when a store should stop selling the milk because it might not reach consumers in optimal freshness. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer) as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices. "Use by" indicates the recommended date that you should consume the product by. If you think that your milk might have prematurely expired, use your senses’ best judgment. “Consumers often view dates as if they indicated health or safety, but those dates are really just about the quality of a product determined by manufacturer.”. Personally, cold cuts freak me out after a day even thought they are perfectly safe to eat, but I have no problem putting expired protein powder in my smoothie. "It's a shame we waste a lot of food in this nation because we're following these dates, when in fact, the food is good a lot longer.". This usually happens if the milk is not tightly sealed and exposed to the air. But for just how long? However, if you don't keep your cold foods refrigerated properly they can grow harmful bacteria and actually expire before the recommended date. Properly stored, an unopened can of evaporated milk will generally stay at best quality for about 18 to 24 months, although it will usually remain safe to use after that. According to Eat By Date, once opened, all milk lasts 4-7 days past its printed date, if refrigerated. “Spoiled foods will develop an off odor, flavor or texture due to naturally occurring spoilage bacteria. However, the taste of spoiled milk might make you throw up. For example, the phrase "best by" indicates that the food or beverage will test best by a certain date, not that you will keel over if you consume if after said date. Oops. Experts say the milk in the carton, though, is safe even after the stamped date has passed. The Council also suggests reserving milk in multiple small containers, which will allow it to thaw faster once you decide to use it. So, as long as you store your foods properly, you can consume many items after the expiration date, though they may not taste as good. According to the FDA, if milk is left unrefrigerated for more than two hours, it’s considered unsafe to consume. “In general, you want to purchase the product before the sell by date for optimal flavor, but it is still considered food safe beyond the sell by date,” Brock says. College Humor noted that food safety experts agree that you can eat eggs for up to five weeks past the sell by date. If you really think about it, most of the wording for so-called expiration dates sound like gentle recommendations. However, it’s important to note that expiration dates vary based on what kind of milk you’re purchasing, how it’s stored, and how it’s packaged. “Contamination can also jump-start bacteria growth, leading to sour milk.” By the way, these non-food items have expiration dates, too. These allow milk producers to tell consumers when the peak freshness of the product is. In the case of every other food product, a best-by or sell-by date is “not an indicator of the product’s safety and are not required by federal law.”. These labels vary from state to state, so it’s not unusual for the carton to get tossed while it’s still good and safe for consumption just because of a milk sell-by date. And of course, where and how you store your milk is pivotal to its freshness. Although the product is past our recommended consumption date, if it still maintains good sensory and quality characteristics, you may decide to continue consumption. That’s a matter of both perception and psychology. This does not necessarily mean the food is unsafe to eat after that date, but that the quality may decrease after the date. Yes, really. A YouTube video posted by College Humor explained that for many products the expiration date is actually a recommendation for when the product will taste best. You need to pour some out of the jug first, because the contents will expand when frozen. There’s a huge difference between milk date labels that say “sell by,” “use by,” “best if used by,” and “expires on.” “The phrase, “best if used by” is used to indicate quality only—even after this date, food is safe to eat. Burning Questions is The Takeout's Q&A feature that satiates your food and drink curiosities, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, told Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. If a food has developed such spoilage characteristics, it should not be eaten,” says the United States Department of Agriculture. 2020 Bustle Digital Group. So I just made a pot of clam chowder and only after finishing did I realize that the milk carton had a use by today date. In fact, some "expired foods" are donated to food pantries after they can no longer be sold at super markets. But the dates on milk and other food packages are—with just one exception—merely guidelines, not safety proclamations. Sell-by dates are a guide for the retailer, letting them know the food is less likely to spoil if it is sold by a specific date. Believe it or not, there’s even a specific location in your fridge where you should be keeping your milk—and it’s not on the door’s shelves. Again, this is where you need to use your judgment. For example, “With raw or unpasteurized milk, these spoilage rates increase, as with milk made without preservatives,” says Pasieka. Brittany Gibson is a regular contributor to’s culture, food, health, and travel sections. ? They do not indicate the exact date the milk will “go bad.”. But let’s clear some things up. But let’s clear some things up. According to Mental Floss, different states have different rules about how milk and other foods are labeled for freshness. “‘, Sell-by’ dates tell a milk seller, like a grocery store, when the product should leave the shelves–either in a customer’s arms or in the trash. That means we’ve got at least 25 or so states with different code dates laws.”. This layer is … I feel fine, so perhaps expiration dates are just a suggestion. Another phrase, “expires on,” is used to indicate the day that deterioration begins, after which a product may become unsafe to consume,” says Lindsey Pasieka, an investigator for This morning I put protein powder in my smoothie that expired in July. These allow milk producers to tell consumers when the peak freshness of the product is. To thaw, let the milk sit in the fridge for a day or two, then give it a really good shake before serving so that the fats (which separate from the water content in the freezer) can get reincorporated. He says that regardless of whether a carton is stamped with a best-by date or a sell-by date, milk would still be safe beyond those dates. She was previously an editorial intern for and Westchester Magazine. So, I have a burning food question.