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FOOD STORAGE — HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP...

MILK, REGULAR, PASTEURIZED (INCLUDING WHOLE, SKIM, 2%, 1% VARIETIES), SOLD REFRIGERATED — UNOPENED OR OPENED

RefrigeratorRefrigerator
Blue Arrow Blue Arrow 1 week after "sell by" date on package
Freezer Freezer
Blue Arrow Blue Arrow 3 months
Tips
  • The exact answer to the question “How long does milk last?” depends to a large extent on storage conditions — to maximize the shelf life of milk, keep it refrigerated at all times.
  • How long does milk last after the sell-by date? Milk will generally remain drinkable for about one week after the "sell-by" date on the package, assuming it has been continuously refrigerated; be sure to keep the temperature of your refrigerator at or below 40° Fahrenheit at all times.
  • To maximize the shelf of milk, do not store it on the fridge door, as the temperature is too warm — the milk will last longer when they stored in the main body of the refrigerator, in its original package.
  • To further extend the shelf life of milk, freeze it; frozen milk will often become separated and the texture may become somewhat grainy, but it is usually acceptable for cooking and baking purposes.
  • Freeze milk in an airtight container and leave at least 1/2 inch headspace at the top, as milk will expand when frozen; thaw in refrigerator.
  • How long does milk last in the freezer for safety purposes? The freezer time shown is for best quality only — foods kept constantly frozen at 0° F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How long does milk last at room temperature? If kept at temperatures above 40 °F, milk will rapidly develop signs of spoilage; milk should be discarded if left for more than 4 hours at room temperature.
  • How to tell if milk is bad? The best way is to smell and look at the milk: signs of bad milk are a sour smell, an off-white or yellowish tinge to the color and a thick or clumpy texture.

Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please click here.

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