What happens if you drink expired milk? (don’t panic)

In this article, we will answer the following question: What happens if you drink expired milk? We tell you how to identify out-of-date milk, how to properly store it, and the side effects of consuming expired milk. 

What happens if you drink expired milk?

If you happen to consume milk that has expired, it will disturb your gastrointestinal system. The side effects can include: stomach ache to serious bacterial poisoning or gastroenteritis (food poisoning that can be caused by different bacteria such as salmonella).

Drinking expired milk is a serious health risk since you can suffer from food poisoning due to the proliferation of bacteria inside the container. 

Remember that raw milk can contain salmonella, Escherichia coli, streptococci, campylobacter, and even the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and other diseases.

When pasteurized, many of these pathogens die and the milk increases its shelf life. But when it is damaged, there is the possibility that some of these germs will develop again, putting those who dare to drink it at risk.

In a large number of cases, consumers have found that the milk in their refrigerators remains fresh despite a few days after its expiration date. 

This in any case is a situation that only occurs when the product is properly handled and kept well refrigerated and handled with the care and hygiene that should be taken for foods as delicate as dairy.

However, if milk is handled incorrectly, the opposite effect can occur, that is, it is damaged long before its expiration date and becomes a risk to our health.

Food poisoning from drinking expired milk can be so mild that you don’t even know you have it, but in some cases, it can be serious.

Symptoms of food poisoning from drinking expired milk are stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or fever. This condition can last for hours or days, and you may begin to feel the effects as soon as 2 hours after drinking the bad milk. (1-4)

How to tell if milk is expired?

When it comes to determining if milk has gone bad, several indicators can help you reach a verdict. By assessing its appearance, texture, smell, and taste, you can make an informed decision about whether the milk is spoiled or safe for consumption.


Check the milk carton for any mold or unusual organic growth. While this occurrence is rare, the presence of such growth is a clear indication of spoiled milk and should be discarded immediately.


Examine the milk’s consistency for curdling or the presence of lumps. If you notice either of these characteristics, it signifies that the milk has spoiled and should not be consumed.


Give the milk a sniff test. If you detect a foul or sour odor, it is a clear sign that the milk has spoiled. In such cases, it is best to dispose of the milk to avoid any potential health risks.


If the milk passes the visual and olfactory inspections, you can cautiously proceed to taste it. Take a small sip and be alert for any sour or slightly bitter flavor. Such taste indicates that the milk has spoiled and should not be consumed.

In the event that microbes have contaminated the milk, leading to spoilage, it is crucial to discard it promptly. Your health and well-being are better served by avoiding the consumption of spoiled milk altogether. (1)

How to keep milk fresh and risk-free?

When it comes to storing pasteurized milk, it is recommended to keep it in the refrigerator at a temperature range of 3-4°C (38-40°F). Placing the milk carton in the refrigerator door should be avoided to minimize temperature fluctuations that can affect its quality.

If you wish to extend the shelf life of milk, freezing is an option. Frozen milk can remain safe for consumption for up to 6 months. 

However, for the best quality, it is advisable to consume frozen milk within a month. It’s worth noting that freezing may cause a slight grainy texture and fat separation in the milk. Therefore, frozen milk is better suited for cooking purposes or as an ingredient in smoothies and shakes.(2)

Is there a difference between sour milk and spoiled milk?

Spoiled milk is commonly used to describe pasteurized milk that has an off smell and taste due to bacterial growth surviving the pasteurization process. These bacteria are typically not beneficial for health and can potentially cause illness.

On the other hand, sour milk usually refers to unpasteurized, raw milk that has begun natural fermentation. 

This fermentation is brought about by various types of lactic-acid-forming bacteria. It’s worth noting that only a small percentage of these bacteria are considered probiotics, offering minimal health benefits. (5, 6)

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Can you Freeze Coconut Milk?

Why doesn’t milk separate?

Does breast milk curdle?


In this article, we answered the following question: What happens if you drink expired milk? We taught you how to identify out of date milk, how to properly store it, and the side effects of consuming expired milk. 

We remind you that in most cases you can drink milk after its expiration date, as long as its color, smell, and consistency remain the same. A study has found that the temperature of your refrigerator affects how long your milk lasts after its expiration date. In fact, if you lower the temperature from 6 ° to 4 °, your milk gets 9 more days of duration.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!


  1. Lu, M., & Wang, N. S.  Spoilage of Milk and Dairy Products. The Microbiological Quality of Food, 151–178. 2017.
  2. Adda Bjarnadottir, Kelli McGrane, How Long Is Milk Good for After the Expiration Date? Them. Healthline Media LLC. 2020.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Food Poisoning Symptoms 2022.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED) [CDC]. Raw Milk Questions and Answers. 2023.
  5. Ansley Hill, What Is Spoiled Milk Good For, and Can You Drink It?Healthline Media LLC. 2019.
  6. Wouters, J. T. ., Ayad, E. H. ., Hugenholtz, J., & Smit, G. Microbes from raw milk for fermented dairy products. International Dairy Journal, 12(2-3), 91–109. 2002.

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