Can oat milk go bad?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “can oat milk go bad?” and the health benefits of oat milk.

Can oat milk go bad?

Yes, oat milk can go bad. During extended storage, numerous oxidation and degradation reactions take place, causing additional harm to the nutrients present in oat milk. 

These reactions can lead to the development of off-flavors and odors, primarily due to the vulnerability of the main polyunsaturated fatty acid in oats, linoleic acid, to lipid oxidation. (1)

What is the shelf life of oat milk?

Unpackaged or homemade oat milk, whether fresh or pasteurized, has a limited shelf life. At room temperature, it typically stays viable for only a few hours, while refrigeration (4°C–5°C) extends its freshness to approximately 2–3 days.

However, pasteurized oat milk that undergoes aseptic packaging exhibits greater stability. When stored under refrigerated conditions, it can maintain its quality for around 12–30 days.

Furthermore, oat milk that has undergone ultra-pasteurization and aseptic packaging enjoys a significantly prolonged shelf life. When kept at room temperature, it remains suitable for consumption for approximately 90–170 days.

Various factors influence the overall shelf life of oat milk, including the quality of the raw materials used, the specific manufacturing process employed, the stability of the emulsion, and any thermal or nonthermal treatments applied.

Additionally, the chosen packaging method and the storage temperature maintained throughout its lifespan also play a crucial role in determining its longevity. (2)

How to store oat milk?

Oat milk can be stored in a manner similar to almond and soy milk, both at room temperature and in the refrigerator. When dealing with unrefrigerated oat milk, it is best to treat it like unrefrigerated coconut milk or dairy milk.

For unopened cartons of unrefrigerated oat milk, it is advisable to store them in a cool and dark place, away from heat sources such as direct sunlight or stovetops. Pantry or kitchen cabinets are suitable storage options.

Once the carton of oat milk is opened, it should be consistently refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. Refrigeration is essential for maintaining the freshness and quality of oat milk. 

However, avoid storing the oat milk carton in the refrigerator door, as this area experiences greater temperature fluctuations.

In the case of homemade oat milk, which lacks preservatives, always store it in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. Ensuring it remains refrigerated at all times will help maintain its freshness and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. (2)

Can you freeze oat milk?

Yes, oat milk can be safely frozen. Freezing is a common preservation method for highly gelatinized foods with medium or high moisture content, such as oat milk. However, it’s crucial to understand that freezing is not suitable for slightly gelatinized products like oat flakes.

Oat milk boasts a significant amount of β-glucan, a soluble fiber that gives it its thick consistency. Nevertheless, when oat milk is frozen and stored in a freezer, it can undergo alterations in the physiological and chemical properties of β-glucan.

To reduce this issue, shaking the container thoroughly before use can be helpful. (3)

How to tell If the oat milk has gone bad?

During prolonged storage, oat milk experiences multiple oxidation and degradation reactions, which can result in nutrient damage, and the emergence of off-flavors and odors. 

The main culprit behind this susceptibility is the presence of linoleic acid, a primary polyunsaturated fatty acid in oats, which is highly prone to lipid oxidation.

Moreover, the packaging of the oat milk product may permit gradual oxygen permeation, leading to an increased level of dissolved oxygen within the milk. 

This heightened oxygen content directly affects the oxidation rate of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and proteins present in the oat milk.(4)

What are the risks of eating spoiled oat milk?

Consuming spoiled oat milk can be risky for your health, particularly if it has been contaminated with harmful substances. Oat milk provides a nutrient-rich environment that promotes the growth of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms.

If you notice symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, or diarrhea after consuming oat milk, it could be a sign of food poisoning. Other potential symptoms may include a decreased appetite and feelings of nausea. 

Normally, these symptoms should improve within a day or two. However, if they persist beyond this timeframe, it is essential to seek medical attention for further evaluation and proper treatment. (5, 6)

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

Can lactose intolerant babies drink breast milk?

Can lactose intolerants drink goat milk?

Benefits of lactose-free milk


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “can oat milk go bad?” and the health benefits of oat milk.


  1. Zhang, H., Önning, G., Triantafyllou, A. Ö., & Öste, R. Nutritional properties of oat-based beverages as affected by processing and storage. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(12), 2294–2301. 2007.
  2. Reyes-Jurado, F., et. al. Plant-Based Milk Alternatives: Types, Processes, Benefits, and Characteristics. Food Reviews International, 1–32, 2021.
  3. Zhang K, Dong R, Hu X, Ren C, Li Y. Oat-Based Foods: Chemical Constituents, Glycemic Index, and the Effect of Processing. Foods. 10(6):1304. 2021.
  4. Kehinde, B. A., Panghal, A., Garg, M. K., Sharma, P., & Chhikara, N.  Vegetable milk as probiotic and prebiotic foods. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. 2020.
  5. BM Lund, SJ O’Brien, Public Health Measures: Food Safety in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings, Encyclopedia of Food Safety, Academic Press, 2014, 140-148.
  6. Food Safety

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