How long after drinking spoiled milk will You get sick?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “How long after drinking spoiled milk will I get sick” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of drinking spoiled milk. Moreover, we are going to discuss vulnerable populations and how to determine if your milk has gone bad.

How long after drinking spoiled milk will You get sick?

The time it takes for the symptoms of food poisoning to appear after devouring spoiled milk depends mainly upon the quantity of the milk that you consumed, the level of contamination, the specific pathogens present in your spoiled milk and the individual susceptibility (1-2). 

If you have drunk spoiled milk in large quantities then the symptoms of food poisoning will appear within 1-24 hours (1-2).

You should be aware that the severity and onset of symptoms after drinking spoiled milk can differ from person to person and if you belong or not to a vulnerable population (3).

What are the potential health risks associated with consuming spoiled milk?

Drinking bad milk can put you at the risk of many food-borne illnesses, especially food poisoning due to the presence of harmful microorganisms and their toxins (1, 4-10). 

Drinking spoiled milk in a large quantity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps, which are typical symptoms of food poisoning (2).

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. Some of the most common symptoms after drinking spoiled milk are:

  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 (2). 

Therefore you should drink plenty of water to compensate for the water loss that the body experiences owing to diarrhea (2).

  1. Food poisoning after consuming bad milk is characterized by abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is also accompanied by vomiting and nausea in most cases (2).
  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 (2). 

Persistent vomiting can result in electrolyte imbalance in the body as well as it can lead to severe dehydration, dizziness, flushed skin, and weakness. It is advised to drink plenty of water to save the body from dehydration as severe dehydration can even lead to shock (11).

  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 (2).

Spoiled milk can potentially contain a variety of harmful microorganism, including Salmonella (5), E. coli O157:H7 (6), Listeria monocytogenes (7), Staphylococcus aureus (8) and Clostridium botulinum (9).

As mentioned before, some vulnerable populations are more prone to food poisoning if they consume bad milk (3). They are:

  1. Elderly people especially those that are above the age of 65.
  1. Children that are aged under 5 as their immune system is weak as compared to adults.
  1. Pregnant women.
  1. Immunocompromised people have a very weak immune system and are already suffering from diseases like HIV or people that have recently got a transplant or have gone through surgery.

Therefore such people should take more care while consuming food and should always check if the milk they are going to consume is a good one or a spoiled one.

What should you do if you accidentally drink spoiled milk?

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 (11).

As soon as you realize the milk is spoiled, stop drinking it. Don’t consume any more of it.

If you experience severe and prolonged symptoms (potentially life-threatening food poisoning symptoms) such as diarrhea persisting for more than 3 days, fever higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, symptoms of severe dehydration, and bloody urine, you should seek medical help immediately.

How can you determine if your milk has gone bad?

So what you can do to check your milk is to use your sense of sight and smell. In case lumps are present in the milk, you should discard such milk.

Moreover, if you spot a mold or an organic growth in the milk then it is an indication of bad milk. Avoid eating food contaminated with molds as they produce harmful mycotoxins that can make you very sick (12).

Moreover, if you smell something foul or sour while taking a sniff test of your milk then it is an indication of bad milk and the best thing to do is to get rid of it.

Is milk safe to use after the best-before date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the carton of milk refers to the quality rather than safety so the milk doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date. However, you should be careful and always check for signs of spoilage on your milk!

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of milk but you can still use milk that is past this date as long as it was stored properly, there is no leakage in the carton and no signs of spoilage are present.


In this brief article, we answered the question “How long after drinking spoiled milk will I get sick” with an in-depth analysis of the health implications of drinking spoiled milk. Moreover, we discussed vulnerable populations and how to determine if your milk has gone bad.


1. Vasavada PC. Pathogenic Bacteria in Milk — A Review. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 1988 Oct 1 [cited 2023 May 30];71(10):2809–16. Available from: 

2. Milaciu M V, Ciumărnean L, Orășan OH, Para I, Alexescu T, Negrean V. Semiology of food poisoning. Int J Bioflux Soc [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 May 10];8(2):108–13. Available from: 

3. Lennard LB. Food microbiology and food poisoning. In: Food & Nutrition [Internet]. Taylor & francis Gr…. Routledge; 2020 [cited 2023 May 30]. p. 132–54. Available from: 

4. E Vera Pingitore E Salvucci F Sesma AMEN-M. Microbiological quality of commercial dairy products. Commun Curr Res Educ Top Trends Appl Microbiol [Internet]. 2007 [cited 2023 May 23];(4000):557–68. Available from: 

5. Marth EH. Salmonellae and Salmonellosis Associated with Milk and Milk Products. A Review. J Dairy Sci [Internet]. 1969 Mar 1 [cited 2023 May 30];52(3):283–315. Available from: 

6. Keene WE, Hedberg K, Herriott DE, Hancock DD, McKay RW, Barrett TJ, et al. A Prolonged Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Caused by Commercially Distributed Raw Milk. J Infect Dis [Internet]. 1997 Sep 1 [cited 2023 May 30];176(3):815–8. Available from: 

7. Lovett J, Francis DW, Hunt JM. Listeria monocytogenes in Raw Milk: Detection, Incidence, and Pathogenicity. J Food Prot [Internet]. 1987 Mar 1 [cited 2023 May 30];50(3):188–92. Available from: 

8. Zecconi A, Hahn G. Staphylococcus aureus in raw milk and human health risk. Bull Int Dairy Fed [Internet]. 1999 [cited 2023 May 30]; Available from: 

9. Weingart OG, Schreiber T, Mascher C, Pauly D, Dorner MB, Berger TFH, et al. The case of botulinum toxin in milk: Experimental data. Appl Environ Microbiol [Internet]. 2010 May [cited 2023 May 30];76(10):3293–300. Available from: 

10. Verraes C, Vlaemynck G, Van Weyenberg S, De Zutter L, Daube G, Sindic M, et al. A review of the microbiological hazards of dairy products made from raw milk. Int Dairy J [Internet]. 2015 Nov 1 [cited 2023 May 23];50:32–44. Available from: 

11. McRobert GR. THE TREATMENT OF BACTERIAL FOOD POISONING. Br Med J [Internet]. 1934 Aug 8 [cited 2023 May 10];2(3841):304. Available from: 

12. Pleadin J, Frece J, Markov K. Mycotoxins in food and feed. In: Advances in Food and Nutrition Research [Internet]. Academic Press Inc.; 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 27]. p. 297–345. Available from: 

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!