What Does the Date on Milk Mean?

I should have titled this, “What May Send the Dalai’s to Divorce Court.”

Dalai Dan is scared of expiration dates. Little girl in a Halloween haunted house scared. If our milk is even approaching the date, he goes and opens a new bottle.

This, my friends, does not please the Dalai. In fact, it has caused many a’morning argument when he goes to pull the newest bottle of milk out for himself because his precious olfactory senses can’t handle anything but milk straight from the utter.

I have tried and tried again to explain to him these dairy facts:

  • All dairy dates are “sell by” dates
  • “Sell By” dates are to help retailers rotate their stock, NOT to tell us when to throw it out
  • Generally speaking, milk and yogurt are good 5-7 (and up to 10!) days after the “sell by” date
  • Cream cheese is good for 2-4 weeks past the date if it is unopened
  • Hard cheeses, unopened, can last up to 6 months!
  • If a hard cheese has some mold, the only effected part is the molded area, so it is perfectly safe to cut it off. Really.

So, the next time you go to throw out a container of milk or yogurt, do the sniff test. If it smells fine, then it is fine. That is really the only way to identify sour milk. But, even if the milk started to turn and you drank it (let’s say, you put chocolate in it and didn’t notice?) you wouldn’t die. You’ll be just fine.

Trust me, Dalai Dan, you’ll be just fine…

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10 Responses to “What Does the Date on Milk Mean?”
  1. amy says:

    Eric and Dan share this fear…so much wasted food at our house as he throws it straight in the trash….sell by = trash in his mind.

  2. jeanne says:

    A cousin of mine that worked in a grocery store told me that the employees there used to get to buy all the stuff that was past it’s sell by date at a big discount and it was still good for weeks after. They used to wait to buy it on purpose.

  3. tracy gordon says:

    I was raised to pretty much ignore “sell by” dates. My dad used to give my mom all kinds of trouble for it (in his defense, the refrigerator was kinda gross). I also don’t remember this whole hand washing/purell craze growing up. Nowadays we do wash our hands, though still don’t sweat the “sell by” date and I will say my kids and I are rarely ever sick. Them’s good bacteria out there folks…Now, who wants to come over for a playdate? ;)

  4. Jimmy C says:

    Maybe it is a man thing, but Dalai Dan is 100% correct. Look, I think you are brilliant on so many things, but you are mistaken on this issue. And I will give you credit on all other products that you mentioned, nearly everything else can last longer. But Milk, once it reaches that date stamped on it, is done. It is time to end your relationship with that bottle.

    After that date, milk gets quite (technical term) yucky. Sorry for disagreeing, but I had to.

    • Dalai Lina says:

      It’s just like a man to toke sides with a man. Good thing God made you American, because if you lived in most parts of the world, you would ONLY have your sniffer to use as an expiration date!

      • Jimmy C says:

        Haha, that is great Dalai! You know what else they don’t have in many parts of the world, refrigerators. They actually store their milk in the utters of the cows. When I am in Brazil, without electricity, we only drink milk that was milked in the past few hours. After that, it gets tossed out.

        Funny though.

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