Good Question: When Does Milk Really Go Bad?

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nobody forgets the first time they accidentally took a drink of bad milk. Usually, it’s from that day forward that people start tossing out milk the day after the date on the jug. But is that really necessary? Does milk really go bad after the date on the container?

Good question.

Nobody likes a mouth full of bad milk. We have all been there – you reach in the fridge and grab some delicious milk. But before you drink it, you notice that the date on the container is yesterday, or maybe it was two days ago. What do you do? Of course, you dump the milk out.

But is that milk really expired? If not, when does milk really go bad?

The first thing you should know is that the little date on the jug isn’t an expiration date; it’s a date used by the industry to indicate the age of the package and when the milk should be sold by. It does not reflect shelf life.

What about shelf life?

According to Highland Dairy, it’s all about proper refrigeration. For example, if you purchase milk and fail to keep it cold, it will go bad even before the date on the container. If you keep your milk unopened and properly refrigerated, then the milk will be good for up to five days after the date on the container.

Highland Dairy suggests you keep milk at 40 degrees or less – below 35 but above freezing is preferred. They also suggest that you keep that milk cold at all times, even after you leave the store.

Highland recommends keeping a cooler in your car when you buy groceries. Put the milk in the cooler a soon as you get it to your car. This will ensure a longer shelf life.

Don’t store your milk in the door of the fridge, and keep the lid on it. And don’t pour out unused milk, like from a bowl of cereal, back into the jug.

If you have a good question, send it to me at I will do my best to answer your good question every Thursday on KAKE News at 10.

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