How to know if milk powder is spoiled?

This article will point out ways to know if your milk powder is spoiled. You will also find information related to the health consequences of eating spoiled milk and we will discuss how to store milk powder properly to prevent its spoilage.

How to know if milk powder is spoiled?

Spoiled milk powder is discolored powder which smells off and has a very moldy taste. You might even find insects crawling inside because of the moisture content. Powdered milk has a best-by date which should be enough to tell if the milk has gone bad or not. 

There are definitely physical signs that you can see and smell which will guarantee you whether the milk powder is safe to use.

What does spoiled milk powder look like?

There are several sing that could help you to identify if your milk powder is spoiled, for example:

  1. Discoloration:The very first change that you will notice in your powder milk once it has been opened and not stored properly, is a shift from light creamy color to a dark yellow. This means that moisture has entered the milk powder’s environment.
  1. Rancid smell: Color change will lead to the formation of gasses that smell funny and change the fresh smell of milk powder. Usually milk powder smells like milk but more creamy but spoiled milk smells nothing like milk or even cream.
  1. Mold formation: Molds can easily grow in this environment now, it is ideal for their reproduction. Green or grayish brown molds will become visible once the powder starts getting spoiled. 

You should never eat spoiled milk powder, specially if it is contaminated with molds as they can produce dangerous mycotoxins that can make you very sick (1)

  1. Insects crawling: Don’t be terrified but you might even find insects crawling inside your jar and basically swimming in that milk powder. Insects such as these are not poisonous but they harm the powder milk and make it not fit to be consumed in any form. 

If your powdered milk is showing any of the above signs then it is better to get a new packet. These changes in the milk powder should not be avoided as they can lead to very serious health issues such as food poisoning or food allergies (2). 

What is the shelf life of milk powder?

The shelf life of milk powder can vary depending on the manufacturer and storage conditions (3). 

Typically, unopened milk powder has a relatively long shelf life ranging from six months to a year or more, as indicated by the best-by date on the packaging. 

It is important to note that the best-by date is not an expiration date but rather an indication of the manufacturer’s recommended period of optimal freshness and quality. Once the milk powder is opened, its shelf life does not significantly decrease if stored properly. 

By transferring the powder to an airtight jar or container, you can preserve its freshness and usability for several months. It is particularly crucial to store milk powder in an airtight container in areas where humidity fluctuates frequently to prevent moisture absorption and clumping.

You should always inspect the milk powder for any signs of spoilage as described -above. If you notice any of these indicators, it is advisable to discard the milk powder, even if it is within the recommended shelf life period.

Can you get sick from eating spoiled milk powder?

Yes, eating spoiled milk powder can pose different health risks due to the potential presence of harmful pathogens (4-6). 

Thus, consumption of spoiled milk powder contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria can lead to symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting (4-6). 

These pathogens can cause foodborne illnesses and can be particularly dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions (7). 

It is crucial to ensure that milk powder is stored properly and to discard any powder that shows signs of spoilage or has an unusual odor or appearance to avoid potential health hazards. Remember: your safety comes first!

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten spoiled milk powder?

If you have consumed spoiled milk powder and experience any symptom of foodborne illness (8), it is important to seek medical attention promptly. 

You should contact a healthcare professional to assess your condition, provide appropriate treatment, and offer guidance on managing any potential complications. Finally, you should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoid consuming any more spoiled milk powder.

How to properly handle milk powder to avoid its spoilage?

To properly handle milk powder and avoid spoilage, you should consider the following guidelines:

  1. Storage: Store milk powder in cool and dry places, as moisture can cause it to form lumps. The original box it comes in may not provide the best protection, so transfer the powder to airtight containers and keep them in a pantry.
  1. Moisture and heat: Milk powder should be kept away from any exposure to moisture and heat, as they can degrade its quality and shorten its shelf life. Store it in a cool and dry environment to maintain its freshness.
  1. Label containers: When transferring milk powder to containers, label them with the date to keep track of its freshness. Minimize exposure to light, as it can contribute to heat buildup and compromise the quality of the milk powder.

By following these recommendations, you can help extend the shelf life of your milk powder and maintain its quality over an extended period.

How to keep an open pack of milk powder safe from getting spoiled?

If you have opened a pack of powdered milk and don’t have an air-tight container to store it in, then make sure that you have clips that will hold the packet in place and are tight enough to not allow any milk powder to fall through the crevices.

Why freezing powdered milk is not a good idea?

Most of the people who use milk powder need it everyday or most of the days and will probably finish a pack in a few months to a year. This means that there is no need to prolong the shelf life of the powder by freezing it.

If you accidentally have a bulk of powdered milk and want to store it for years to come, maybe then freezing will serve you well but it is imperative that you check the best-by date before planning to freeze the powder

In this case it is literally true that you should not cry over ‘’spoiled’’ milk, you know the signs to look out for now. In case, you still somehow have consumed spoiled milk, you might feel stomach aches or in the worst cases, a food poisoning case. 


This article will point out ways to know if your milk powder is spoiled. You will also find information related to the health consequences of eating spoiled milk and we will discuss how to store milk powder properly to prevent its spoilage.


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8. 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: 

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