How long can you leave milk out?

 

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you leave milk out?”, and how long is the milk safe to drink after the expiration date?

Read on if you want to know more about the shelf-life and safety of expired milk. 

How long can you leave milk out?

Milk is perishable and should not be left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours at 4°C and 1 hour if the temperature is above 32°C according to the FDA, or else the milk will spoil quickly. The crux is to never leave your perishables for long periods of time in the ‘danger zone.

 

The extent of spoilage of the milk, that has been left on the counter, depends a lot on the milk quality. Raw milk tends to spoil quicker than pasteurized milk. Milk with a higher initial microbial load will be more prone to spoilage even after pasteurization.

How long is the milk safe to drink after the expiration date?

Typically, unopened milk will last for 5–7 days past the labeled date, while opened milk will stay good for at least 2–3 days past this date. UHT milk that is sold unrefrigerated is also called aseptic milk. 

 

This type of milk can typically stay good for 2–4 weeks past the labeled date if stored in a cool, dry place such as the pantry, and up to 1–2 months in the fridge. Once opened, UHT milk should always be kept in the fridge and consumed within 7–10 days.

 

UHT milk is heated above 135°C for 2-5 seconds to kill the vegetative spores. Therefore, It has an extended shelf life than HTST milk.

 

(Unopened) Refrigerator 
Past printed date 
Lactose-free milk 7-10
Non-fat milk 7-10
Skim milk 7
Reduced-fat  7
Whole milk  5-7
(Opened) Refrigerator 
Past printed date 
All types of milk 5-7

What happens if you drink expired milk?

Just a sip or two of the spoiled or expired milk won’t do you any harm. We are talking about consuming large amounts of expired milk that was spoiled. 

 

Drinking spoiled milk leads to food poisoning and you may experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. 

 

However, these symptoms should be gone substantially or vanished by the third day. If the symptoms persist and the situation gets worse, you should contact your doctor.

The shelf-life of milk

UHT milk that is sold unrefrigerated is also called aseptic milk. This type of milk can typically stay good for 2–4 weeks past the labeled date if stored in a cool, dry place such as the pantry, and up to 1–2 months in the fridge. Once opened, UHT milk should always be kept in the fridge and consumed within 7–10 days.

 

UHT milk is heated above 135°C for 2-5 seconds to kill the vegetative spores. Therefore, It has an extended shelf life than HTST milk. The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of different types of milk under refrigeration. 

 

(Unopened) Refrigerator 
Past printed date 
Lactose-free milk 7-10
Non-fat milk 7-10
Skim milk 7
Reduced-fat  7
Whole milk  5-7
(Opened) Refrigerator 
Past printed date 
All types of milk 5-7

How to tell if that milk has gone bad?

Sour milk develops a slimy and grainy texture due to the curdling of casein protein. If the appearance has not changed yet, give it a sniff. If the milk smells sour and acidic, it has gone bad and is unfit for consumption

 

Drinking spoiled milk in large quantities can result in food poisoning that reflects in the form of diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. If the symptoms persist even after 3 days, contact your doctor. 

 

In case If It has just started curdling and going sour, it can be used in baking, soups and stews, salad dressings, cheesemaking, and as a tenderizer. 

How to store milk to extend its shelf-life?

  1. Pasteurized milk should be kept at 3-4°C in the refrigerator.

 

  1. Avoid keeping the milk carton in the door to prevent temperature fluctuations.

 

  1. Freeze storing milk extends its shelf life for up to 6 months but it is recommended to consume within a month. Frozen milk has a grainy texture and some separated fat. It is best to use in cooking or smoothie/shakes.

 

  1. The refrigerator temperature should be maintained at 38°F (3°C) and 40°F (4°C).

 

  1. After use, the milk carton should immediately go back to the fridge.

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “How long can you leave milk out?”, and how long is the milk safe to drink after the expiration date?

References

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/milk-safety/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-is-milk-good-after-expiration-date#tips

http://www.eatbydate.com/dairy/milk/milk-shelf-life-expiration-date/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-is-milk-good-after-expiration-date#side-effects

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/spoiled-milk#spoiled-vs-sour

 

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