We had a family gathering over the weekend and as things were drawing to a close; my daughter questioned the safety of the milk in my refrigerator. She noticed that the date on the milk jug had just passed. We had a short discussion about how long milk is safe to drink past the sell by date marked on the carton.
In case you are wondering, milk that has been properly stored will remain safe and drinkable for about a week after that sell by date. Of course, if you notice an off flavor, odor, or appearance, you should toss the milk. One of the things that keeps milk safe for the week after the date is storing it in a refrigerator kept below 40° Fahrenheit.
At AnswerLine, we get many calls about food safety. After reading the sell by date on eggs, callers often ask how long
they can safely use eggs. The sell by date on an egg carton, as on milk cartons, refer to the time the store has to sell a product. They cannot legally sell the milk or eggs after the date marked on the carton. Producers of those products do not expect that you will be able to use an entire gallon of milk or a dozen eggs overnight if you happen to purchase them near the date.
It is important to remember that very few items have actual expiration dates. Baby formula is a food that does expire, so remember to always check the date and discard expired formula. Canned foods that have been commercially canned are good for 3-5 years past the best if used by date. Food you home canned should ideally be used within the first year or two at the most after processing.
We ae always happy to help you understand just what food products you have in your home are safe and which ones would be best discarded.