Can you drink milk after the use-by date?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you drink milk after the use-by date” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink milk after the use-by date. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to do a sensory evaluation of milk. 

Can you drink milk after the use-by date?

You can drink opened pasteurized milk that is 4-7 days past the printed date on it as long as it was properly refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time but we encourage you to do a sensory evaluation beforehand and then decide whether or not you are going to drink milk that is past the use-by date. 

Moreover, when it comes to unopened milk, it stays good 7-10 days past the printed date on it provided that it is stored properly in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, when it comes to the use-by date then you can drink the milk that is past this date provided that it was already stored properly in the freezer (before the use-by date).

It is worth mentioning that the way you have stored your milk also impacts whether or not it is still safe to consume. 

For instance, if your open milk was stored for more than 2 hours at room temperature (or more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) then it is better to discard it as bacteria grow best at 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and there are chances of your milk to be already bacteria-laden in this case.

On the other hand, the milk that is properly refrigerated the whole time at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below can be suitable to consume within 4-7 days after purchase provided that there are no signs of spoilage associated with it.

Thus, you should do a sensory evaluation of the milk to reach a final verdict on whether or not it is still suitable to drink.

How can you tell if milk is still safe to drink?

Certain indicators point out bad milk, therefore you should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of your milk to reach a final verdict whether it is still suitable to consume or if it has gone bad.

  1. If the milk is curdled or has lumps present in it, then it is an indication of bad milk and you should get rid of it.
  1. If you smell something foul or sour while taking a sniff test then it is an indication that the milk has gone bad and the best thing to do is to discard it.
  1. If the milk has passed the visual and smell test, then you can go ahead and taste it. If you notice a sour or slightly bitter taste after taking a little sip of milk then it is an indication that the fresh milk has gone bad. 

Health implications of drinking spoiled milk

Drinking spoiled milk can put you at the risk of many food-borne illnesses, especially food poisoning. Drinking spoiled milk in a large quantity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.

You can read about microorganisms in milk here.

A mild food poisoning lasts for about a day or two while a more persistent case of food poisoning can last for about 10 days.

  1. Diarrhea is an indication of the body that a certain obnoxious agent has entered. So consumption of expired or bacteria-laden milk often causes diarrhea.
  1. Food poisoning after consuming bad milk is characterized by abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is also accompanied by vomiting and nausea in most cases.
  1. If you have consumed milk that has bacterial growth on it then you will experience nausea and vomiting which is the natural defense of the body to get rid of the unwanted harmful substance that has entered the body.
  1. Consuming milk that has gone bad will also raise your body temperature and you can experience fever which is the natural defense mechanism of your body and is the indicator that something is off with your body.

So in case you have devoured bad milk and are now suffering from vomiting and diarrhea,  you should try to drink as much water as possible so that while the body is getting rid of the toxins in form of diarrhea and vomiting, the water that you drink will protect your body against dehydration that vomiting can otherwise result in.

Moreover, the symptoms of severe and potentially life-threatening food poisoning involve diarrhea persisting for more than 3 days, fever higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, symptoms of severe dehydration, and bloody urine. In such a case, you should seek medical help immediately.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you drink milk after the use-by date” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink milk after the use-by date. Moreover, we discussed different ways to do a sensory evaluation of milk. 

Citations

https://www.dairy.com.au/dairy-matters/you-ask-we-answer/can-i-drink-milk-a-day-after-its-use-by-date#:~:text=The%20’use%2Dby’%20date,by’%20date%20on%20the%20label.&text=Pasteurised%20milk%20will%20keep%20fresh,%C2%B0C%20(refrigerator%20temperature).
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-is-milk-good-after-expiration-date
https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/is-expired-milk-safe-to-drink-heres-how-to-know-when-to-throw-away-food
https://www.healthyeating.org/nutrition-topics/milk-dairy/storage-handling/drinking-milk-past-its-use-by-date

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.