Can You Safely Drink Milk After the Sell-By Date?


Question: My teenage daughter refuses to drink milk after the "sell by" date on the carton, but I’ve always felt it was safe for at least a few days after that. Can you drink milk after the sell-by date?

Answer: Yes, milk that has been properly stored will generally remain drinkable for about one week after the "sell-by" date on the package.

That’s the general case, mind you — as the Dairy Council of California points out, several factors will influence what happens in your particular fridge once the milk’s sell-by date has passed.

Keeping your milk continuously refrigerated and sealing the container well after each use will go a long way toward keeping your milk fresh.  So too will making sure that the temperature of your refrigerator remains at or below 40° Fahrenheit at all times.

If milk develops an off odor, flavor or appearance, you should always discard it.

(Note: This refers to “sell-by” terminology used in the United States; practices in other countries may differ.)

See Also:

Can You Freeze Milk Successfully?
Are Eggs Still Safe After the Expiration Date?
Expiration Dates: Should You Pay Attention?


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