Where Is The Use By Date On Milk?

Nobody likes food wastage, least of all us. So it pays to check the Use By date on all your products. With milk, it varies from brand to brand, but usually the Use By date is printed at the top of the carton or box. Sometimes there may be a box for it at the bottom, next to the panel on nutritional information and the barcode etc.

Sometimes different forms are used to. You might see “Best Before” or “Expires On”, as well as the more common “Use By”. The date should be clear – there should be a day, a month (usually written, but sometimes in numerical form), and a year.  

But these dates are not as cut and dried as you think (and the concept behind how they are calculated varies from state to state too). It’s one thing to state when milk should be used by, and quite another to indicate when it really expires.

According to the boffins behind Eat By Date, all milk lasts for between 4 and 7 days beyond the printed date if refrigerated and stored correctly. Furthermore, if unopened (and refrigerated), milk will also be fine beyond its Use By date – 5-7 days for whole milk, 7 days for skimmed and reduced fat milk, and up to 10 days for non-fat and lactose free milk. That’s quite the gap.

To make your milk last as long as possible, and ensure it’s as fresh as can be, there are certain guidelines to follow. It should be stored at 38° to 40°F, and opened as infrequently as possible. Contrary to popular belief, your fridge door is not the optimum place to store it – every time it’s opened, the milk is subject to warm air, hastening bacterial growth and the spoiling process. Somewhere at the back, and lower down (heat rises), is best.

Also, make sure the cap or top is closed as tightly as possible, and whatever you do, do not drink direct from the carton – bacteria from your mouth will cause the milk to spoil far sooner than it should. As for when it’s finally gone bad? It will develop an off odor, flavor, or texture, and should be fairly obvious.

So don’t simply toss your milk because it’s a day out of date - follow the rules above and you should be able to get a few extra days, or long enough not to have to waste any.

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