Milk Expiration Dates: How to Keep Your Milk Fresh

  • Article
  • 1 min read January 24, 2014

Quick quiz: Your milk has a date printed on it, but what does that mean for you?

In some cases, that date may be a “sell by” date meant for the grocery store. In other cases, it may be a “best buy” date for you. States have different laws and regulations that govern what the terminology and dates mean, so there’s no one universal answer nationwide. 

While the meaning of the dates may differ, the dairy industry takes many steps to make sure that your milk is safe and of the highest quality as it can be. Did you know that those steps don’t end at the grocery store? Once you purchase your milk, you too can take steps to keep your milk fresh and safe.

Milk tastes best when it’s served ice cold – plus, refrigeration is key in maintaining milk’s safety, too. Here are a few best practices that will help you keep your milk cold and delicious:

  • When you’re at the grocery store, pick up milk and other dairy products last so they stay as cool as possible until you get home. 
  • Once you get home place the milk immediately in the fridge, and store it at 40° F or below. 
  • Wait as long as possible to open your milk after you’ve bought it. As long as it’s sealed, it’ll stay fresher. 
  • While it may be a bit inconvenient, store your milk in the back of your fridge where it’s coldest. 

The bottom line: Your nose knows. If your milk smells funny, don’t drink it. And when in doubt, throw it out.