How long can you drink milk after the sell-by date?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you drink milk after the sell-by date?”, and how to tell if the milk is spoiled?

How long can you drink milk after the sell-by date?

The sell-by date is of concern for the seller only. The retail store keeps track of this date to figure how long the milk can be kept on the display shelves. 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. 

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.

Past printed date 
Lactose-free milk7-10
Non-fat milk7-10
Skim milk7
Reduced-fat 7
Whole milk 5-7
Past printed date 
All types of milk5-7

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.

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.

How to use spoiled milk?

If your milk starts to develop mold, It is of no use and must be discarded. In case If It has just started curdling and going sour, there are ways you can take advantage of it.

Baked goods 

If you do not have buttermilk or yogurt at hand, use slightly acidic spoiled milk to make biscuits, pancakes, scones, and cornbread. You can also use it in place of fresh milk.

Soups and stews 

Milk imparts richness, creaminess, and a lot of flavor to soups and stews. Adding slightly acidic milk to soups and stews is a great way to improvise.

Salad dressings 

Creamy salad dressings like ranch, caesar, and blue cheese have hints of tanginess for which all of these sauces require an acidic ingredient. The acidity of spoiled milk is the perfect choice for this ingredient.


Acid can be added to old milk to make delicious cottage and farmer’s cheese.


Marinate your meat or fish in sour milk to soften the muscle fiber. Meat marinated in sour milk turns out very juicy. Uncooked whole grains can also be soaked in sour milk.

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.

How to heat milk on the stove?

  1. First, grab a saucepan and place it over the stovetop on low heat. Low heat will keep the milk from boiling over.
  1. Stir the milk slowly using a wooden spoon or a spatula to prevent the milk solids from sticking to the bottom and burning.
  1. The temperature of the milk should be warm and not too hot. You can check the temperature by holding your wrist over a teaspoon of milk collected from the saucepan.
  1. If this milk is supposed to be consumed by an infant, pour It into a sterile bottle. The bottle should be heated by placing it in a bottle warmer, a pot of hot water, or a microwave.

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

Can lactose intolerant babies drink breast milk?

Benefits of boiled milk

Benefits of lactose-free milk


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you drink milk after the sell-by date?”, and how to tell if the milk is spoiled?



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