Is Your Milk Spoiling Faster?

I hosted a shrinking product chat over at this morning and an interesting comment from someone in New Orleans came up about milk going bad:

Over the past two weeks, I have ended up with two gallons of milk, purchased at different stores from different dairies, that went bad before their expiration date. When we asked for a refund at the second store, the manager noted that they had gotten several complaints about sour milk lately, which was unusual for the store. The manager wondered whether truck drivers were turning up the thermometer on their refrigerator system or skipping it altogether to save gas…

I live in Brooklyn and a few months ago, even before the summer, I myself started to notice my milk was spoiling a lot faster too. As in, a matter of days. I thought our corner store was just being cheap. I’ve since switched to organic milk because it lasts for weeks. Has anyone else noticed this? If so, what part of the country are you in, what brand do you buy, and from what store?

(Illustration: wedgienet)


Edit Your Comment

  1. luckybob343 says:

    Levittown, PA – buying whatever the store I stop at carries. Lehigh or Rosenberger, usually. We’ve noticed our milk going sour days before the expiration date, but attributed it to storing it in the “milk compartment” on our refrigerator door.

    Nice to know our fridge isn’t broken.

  2. MissTicklebritches says:

    @luckybob343: the door isn’t the coldest part of the fridge

  3. copious28 says:

    Organic milk lasts at least 2x as long, sometimes 3x if you dont open often. Sounds like it is worth the extra money.

  4. puffyshirt says:

    I switched to soy for the very same reason. The milk consumption never really changed (I wasn’t drinking less or taking longer to drink/use it), but it was going bad all the same. Took some getting used to, but soy is actually pretty decent.

  5. snoop-blog says:

    @luckybob343: Yeah that was the first thing that comes to my mind is that the fridge isn’t getting cold enough.

    I can’t agree though. We always have milk in the house, though we don’t go through it fast or anything, and I can’t say I’ve noticed it going bad faster. Maybe it’s an isolated situation, or I’m just not very observant.

  6. chrisjames says:

    Yes. Our Kroger milk will start to turn about a week before the expiration date: about a day after we buy it. It’s undrinkable a day or two before the date. A year ago it would last all the way to the expiration date, sometimes longer.

    I noticed the Kroger fridge seems not very cold at all, but it’s hard to tell since they keep the entire store just a few degrees above absolute zero.

  7. Aesteval says:

    Is there a particular reason why organic milk lasts longer?

  8. tarragonoxide says:

    The same thing happened to me with milk from Trader Joe’s in Boston, MA. Though I didn’t alert the management, I advise others to do so if this happens to you.

    @puffyshirt: I second that.

  9. Average_Joe says:

    You said “organic” milk lasts longer. I always assumed “organic” milk lacked preservatives. How does it last and how much longer does it last? Sometimes it might take me longer than two weeks to finish off the milk and there is nothing worse than having to toss out milk I paid for.

  10. I don’t think they are turning down their refer units b/c a lot of trucks have history reports to indicate what their temps are.

  11. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    @copious28: I’ve been trying to make the switch to organic whenever possible, but the long shelf life of organic milk makes it a complete no-brainer.

  12. chiieddy says:

    We go through a gallon a week. We’ll never get to test this in my house. :)

  13. Angryrider says:

    Milk’s okay, but I prefer going to one store over the other mainly for price and quality. I’m not switching to soy milk because I think it’s a scam since the Asian stores sell a lot of soy drink.

  14. snoop-blog says:

    The milk carton in the pic is like “Wtf mate!?”

  15. stre says:

    can’t say i’ve noticed our milk going bad any earlier than usual, and we usually push it to the limit.

  16. Islandkiwi says:

    @Aesteval: I have no idea why this is, but Costco’s organic milk does seem to stay fresh for an extremely long time. We stopped buying elsewhere once we started buying from Costco.

  17. Franklin Comes Alive! says:


    Whatever it’s saying, that picture rocks.

  18. BarryT says:

    We’ve been in NYC for the past month for work and had three containers of milk go bad on us, all within a day or two. One place–Westside Market on 7th and 14th, sold us milk that was out of date. Our fault for not checking, but theirs for not _really_ checking. Best milk came in a glass bottle from Balduccis.

  19. katarn says:

    I’ve had the same problem lately. I had to pour a gallon of milk that was never opened down the drain because it had gone bad Saturday night. According to the date, it should have been fine up to tomorrow.

  20. outofoffice says:

    If the implication that truckers are turning down their refrigeration to save on fuel is at all true, there is a much broader issue in that those trucks carry everything from raw meats and poultry to a host of other perishables. Yikes!

  21. quirkyrachel says:

    Also, it’s possible that the same factory is producing milk under different labels in some area of the US. So these could both be from the same place, which could be having temp. issues.

  22. Bought some milk that was at least a week from it’s expiration date recently, and it was already bad. Most disgusting mouthful ever.

  23. bohemian says:

    We got a gallon of Hyvee organic that was sour when we opened it. It had about a week before the date expired. We usually have good luck with their organic though and generally it does stay fresh longer.

    We have noticed that the expire dates on milk just put on the shelves is only a few days. It seems to be that way almost all the time when it used to almost always have a good two weeks on the label. I don’t know if it is a demand change or some systematic change or backlog of milk or what.

  24. NYGal81 says:

    I’m particularly wary of dairy in general, so I always give my milk a good sniff before I pour–even if I just opened it. One thing I’ve noticed for myself (and I’m sure others have too), is that the lesser the milkfat content, the faster the milk spoils. I think that’s a matter of fat being a stabilizer of sorts. That being said, I do feel like my 1% spoils perhaps a bit too quickly, bought from Kroger in Ohio.

    One other thing to think about is what that date on the bottle really means. Is it a “sell by” date or an “expiration date”? They’re different. I always look for the milk with the date farthest from the present day. So if I buy milk with a stamped date of, say, July 27th, but I open it today, I almost expect it to spoil/expire if it goes unused until the 27th. However, if I buy it today, and I don’t open it till the 23rd, it will surely make it to the 27th sans spoilage/expiration. Even if I opened it on the 27th, as long as the seal wasn’t broken, I should be able to get a couple of days out of the milk before it spoils. I don’t know how many times I’ve caught my husband trying to throw out sealed milk because it’s close to the “expiration date” even though it hasn’t been opened and exposed to the increased oxygen, germies, etc. that expedite the spoiling process.

    Long story short…I don’t go by the date. When in doubt, use your snout!

  25. MercuryPDX says:

    Yes. I am one of those peeps who get the furthest dated quart of half and half from the back of the dairy case…. usually giving me a month to use it.

    Used to take almost forever for it to start to go bad, now it starts to smell funny after about two weeks. I have a “backup” quart of Coffeemate at the ready, just in case.

  26. PhilWeinstein says:

    I have noticed the same thing and switched to organic milk.

    @Aesteval: Most organic milks are ultra-pasteurized which means it is processed at a higher temperature than normal pasteurized milk. This kills more of the bad guys thus the milk stays fresher longer.

  27. cmcd14 says:

    Purchased some Country Fresh from Rite Aid that went bad before the date.

  28. ptkdude says:

    As someone who can’t drink milk at all, I hadn’t noticed it going sour faster ;-).

    @Angryrider: how is soy milk a “scam”?

  29. Zatnikitelman says:

    I’ll join in here and just say that my family and I have noticed that our milk from Mayfield is going sour quicker than it used to as well.

  30. NYGal81 says:

    @Aesteval: Is it whole milk? Higher fat content = high stability = slower spoilage. That would be my first guess. Second guess would be that the organic product might be/is likely higher in quality from the start than standard store-brand fare.

  31. LincolnK says:

    If anyone is referring to the “sell by” date on milk, that’s not really an expiration date. You should expect it to be good for at least a couple days past this, possibly up to a week with proper storage.

    I’ll pass on organic milk as there isn’t really quality control, no pasteurization, etc.

    My dad has been hauling milk from dairy farms for 30 years, so I’ll tend to believe him.

  32. Here’s what I’ve noticed – the milk jugs seem to be in much worse shape when you buy them. I’ve had two start leaking before I even got home in the last couple months. I can’t remember that ever happening before.

    I agree that somewhere along the way costs are being cut – whether it be refrigeration, or packing, or speed – I’m not sure…

  33. PixiePerson says:

    We get ours from a dairy that comes to the farmer’s market. It really limits when we can pick up milk, but the milk tastes great! It would probably last forever if it ever made it longer than about six days in the fridge.

  34. VA_White says:

    Not all organic milk lasts longer. Horizon and some other organic dairies pasteurize their milk at a higher temperature for a longer time to extend shelf life. This is clearly marked on the carton. It will say ULTRA-PASTEURIZED and not simply “pasteurized.”

    Ultra-pasteurized milk can be organic or not. And organic milk is not necessarily ultra-pasteurized. Several store brands of organic milk are not UP and will go bad as quickly as regular non-organic milk.

    There is also UHT milk which is ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk. This milk is shelf-stable and is the milk you get in Europe on the grocery store shelf in a box or tetrapack.

    Here is wikipedia on the differences:

  35. renilyn says:

    We’re from Colorado Springs and have found the same thing from Sinton Dairy (actually located here in Colorado Springs) happening too. Sam’s Club is typically where we purchase our milk-and 99% of the time it is non-fat milk.

    how odd…

  36. Etoiles says:

    We live in the metro DC area, on the Virginia side.

    One of us usually buys a half-gallon of milk — 1% or skim — on either Saturday (my grocery trip) or on Monday (his grocery trip). We’ve been finding that we need to buy a new container every week, because it’s usually *just* at that, “this smells a hair off but I can still use it to make mac & cheese tonight” point on day 7. Regardless of the “sell by” date, which is usually 5-9 days after the time we have to toss the milk.

    I know that once you’ve opened it you’re supposed to use it within a week, but I distinctly remember that when I was in grad school in Boston a few years back, I could usually get 10 days. My boyfriend is always perplexed how quickly our milk turns, too.

    (I don’t count 2005 – early 2008 for comparison, because I lived in New York City, where there is a WIDE variety of bodegas and grocery stores and it takes time to learn which ones in a neighborhood are reliable.)

  37. timmus says:

    We’ve been buying supermarket organic milk for 5 years now in 2 states… the cartons always last 3+ weeks. Never a problem.

  38. timmus says:

    I agree that somewhere along the way costs are being cut – whether it be refrigeration, or packing, or speed – I’m not sure…

    You may be onto something. It’s not like the grocery shrink ray can hit gallon and half-gallon jugs of milk. I bet the cost cutting measures are more underhanded.

  39. illtron says:

    Gotta throw my vote behind organic milk. I go through milk fairly slowly. Aside from avoiding the antibiotics and bovine hormone additives, it lasts for a very long time. I bought a half gallon at the end of June that doesn’t go bad for another month. I haven’t even opened it yet, and I’m not at all worried.

  40. ianmac47 says:

    A quick look at the expiration dates in store will show that the organic milk will last much longer, or is at least a lot fresher before even getting to the store.

  41. holocron says:

    We all but gave up milk a couple of years ago. That said, I can not comment on this. However, I was just saying the other day that a lot of the produce we’ve purchased recently seems to be spoiling faster than it used to.

    A connection? Perhaps. What? Don’t know.

  42. Geekybiker says:

    Get the lactose reduced milk if you dont like soy. It lasts far far longer than normal milk (And still is real milk!)

  43. Dobernala says:

    @LincolnK: That is patently false. Organic milk is pasteurized. It is illegal in most places to sell milk that isn’t. Do you have some beef with organic products that makes you want to post false information?

  44. EllaMcWho says:

    @PhilWeinstein: I buy litghtly pasteurized (low temp) organic milk from an independent dairy via my farmers market – usually 4 to 5 gallons at a time, due to both my 2 year and her 45 yr. old dad drinking up to a half-gallon a day between them. Yes, whole milk…And when my husband’s been out of town, those gallons last (unopened) for up to 3 weeks and another week after opening. So I fall on the higher-the-butterfat-content side of the argument, rather than thinking its the ultra-pasteurization.

  45. EllaMcWho says:

    @EllaMcWho: I meant lightly

  46. CatOnMyHead says:

    I recently started buying local milk: Sparkman’s via Whole Foods (I grew up on milk from Jersey cows and missed the delicate taste – most commercial milk is Holstein). The last two half-gallons went off before the sell-by date; I attributed it to the cornstarch-based biodegradable jugs, and have reluctantly gone back to Horizon.

    FWIW, I get the best price on Horizon half-gallons at the local Quik-Trip gas station, which is both cool and kind of weird.

  47. LincolnK says:

    @Dobernella That was my understanding of it, nothing against organic. I guess I’ll go do some reading.

  48. lalaland13 says:

    I just support my local economy by milking a local cow. It’s the best option.

    Snark aside, I’ll keep an eye out. I always buy the freshest milk possible, and even then half the time I feel like I have to rush to drink it all. It’s a small victory when I use it all before it expires.

    Usually I buy from Wal-Mart or a local chain and only once have I ever had a really nasty awful problem. Expired milk usually is that way. A good day or two before the date on the jug, and it tasted like bitter….bitterness.

  49. BustedWheel says:

    “I’ve since switched to organic milk because it lasts for weeks.”
    Is this true?
    If so, why?
    I personally don’t drink a ton of milk, and It seems to always be bad before it’s empty. If organic milk does last longer, I am on board.

  50. monkeybot says:

    I buy my organic milk (2% fat), half gallon at Trader Joe’s, pasturized and supposively from nearby farms (I live in the SF Bay Area).

    I have a bad habit of opening it up within a day or two of buying it and then not touching it again until two weeks later and then consuming it within +/-5 days of the exp date. It’s never turned funky on me.

    I also keep it in the back of the fridge, never the door.

  51. ElasticSyntax says:

    @LincolnK: Organic milk at the store is pasteurized. You may be thinking of raw milk.

  52. BustedWheel says:

    Sorry, question answered a couple of times.

  53. dangermike says:

    Count me in with the short-spoils. Here in Orange County, CA, some lowfat (1%) Kirkland milk last week tasted like garbage right off the shelf.

  54. AustinSauer says:

    now that you bring it up, i’ve had some meat products going bad on me
    lately, namely chicken sausage, that was bad when i opened it on 7/14 and
    the sell by date was 7/25. it was manufactured outside the grocery store
    (Key Food) so your theory could hold true about the truck temps. yecch!
    interestingly, i replaced that with some pork sausage from a higher-end
    local market, and 2 of the 4 links just didnt smell quite right, so i took
    them back and the butcher agreed with me. the weird thing is that the other
    2 links smelled fine. i’m guessing they are rotating the stock and 2 were
    from an older batch?? no truck theory for that but this is not the first
    time i have had meat or chicked spoil before it should. be diligent, people!
    and save your receipts!

  55. Rippleeffect says:

    And I thought it was just me. Used to be able to keep milk at least a week after the exp date. Now I’m lucky if it lasts to a couple of days before exp.

    Shopping at Vons

  56. steveliv says:

    thats odd, i get my milk from the local kroger, and it seems to lats up to and past the expiration date…

  57. steveliv says:

    @steveliv: err.. “last” no lats

  58. urabl says:

    I was wondering about this myself this morning, as I got rid of my milk for going sour even though tomorrow is the expiration date.

    Got this bottle at Target – have had bad luck with 7-11 as well.

  59. TVarmy says:

    @NYGal81: I thought that higher fat content meant that it was easier for bacteria and unsavory odors to bind onto, like how grains tend to last forever but nuts go stale?

  60. ElasticSyntax says:

    Organic milk is pasteurized at a much higher temperature than non-organic, which is chock full of antibiotics.

    It’s funny that the non-organic producers methods lead to shorter-lived milk (and probably cows, and maybe people, too).

  61. AnderBobo says:

    I’ve been buying fudgsicles from my local Acme and I’ve noticed every time that when I unwrap the fudgsicle they had melted, and refroze in the Acme freezers…. it is REALLY annoying b/c the stick then goes in the center of this nasty refrozen mess…. ugh. So yeah… I believe trucks are not keeping it cool in lieu of gas.

  62. TVarmy says:

    Maybe it’s just the heat, and they’re taking too long to get the milk between refrigerators at some point?

  63. SpdRacer says:

    My milk here in good old So Ill (local dairy coop is Prairie Farms) it still good a up to week after the date just like always.

  64. SkyeBlue says:

    One thing I don’t mind at all paying the extra money for is Horizon Organic Milk, which Walmart carries. It tastes so much better than any of the other brands (regular or organic) of milk and it’s nice knowing it doesn’t have the hormones and antibiotics in it that the other milks have.

    I always make sure too to buy the ones with the farest exparation date, even if I have to go back way into the shelf to get it.

  65. savvy999 says:

    Buy half-gallons and freeze them. Frozen milk will stay fresh-tasting for months.

    But remember to freeze it OUT of the container it came in (put it into tupperware) or open the bottle and pour a little out to make some headroom, otherwise the bottle will burst.

    Also, I can’t believe I have to mention this, but don’t freeze milk in a paper/cardboard container, will be a soggy mess when you defrost it.

  66. mk3 says:

    Started noticing this with Costco milk about 2 weeks ago. We go through about 4 gallons a week. Thought it was just one batch, but will taking notes from now on.

  67. Skiffer says:

    Irradiated milk will last up to 6 months on the shelf without refrigeration when it’s unopened, and at least a week or two once it’s opened.

  68. SpdRacer says:

    “it is”

  69. Pennsylvanian123 says:

    Agreed. Organic milk lasts forever. I used to throw away half the milk I bought until I started buying organic. Now I always use up the entire 1/2 gallon before it goes bad. I would say I take 2-3 weeks to use a 1/2 gallon, generally. Regular milk never lasted that long. Ever. Can’t say why, but could the horomones and chemicals spoil the milk faster? Methinks yes. Or maybe they just put something in it deliberately to make it spoil faster, because you’ll just buy more, and faster, right?

  70. BytheSea says:

    Philadelphia, PA, I buy from Superfresh. No milk problems.

  71. Jesse says:

    The overwhelming majority of trailer refrigeration units are diesel powered so there might be some truth to this. However, it would strike me as easier just to push the increased cost down to the consumer. Milk prices vary anyways.

  72. theblackdog says:

    I’ll have to keep an eye on milk, but I have noticed that cheese has gone bad faster during the summer. Once I opened a bag of shredded cheese right after buying it at the store, and it had already started to mold.

    My friend says it happens because perishables are in hotter temps during the summer. Could this be the same case with milk, and will the issue of milk going sour faster become a non-issue in the winter?

  73. charlie.evans says:

    I live in Tulsa, and I haven’t really noticed. Of course I go through my half gallon of milk in like 2 days (what can I say…I love my Honey Nut Cheerios!) so it doesn’t really stick around to get sour. Could this be a problem with the type of milk (Whole, 2%, etc), or is it just all across the board?

  74. Echodork says:

    I live in the DC Metro area, and as a matter of fact, I HAVE noticed my milk going sour faster. Usually 2-3 days before the date stamped on top… and the expected lifespan is supposed to be a week AFTER the sell-by date.

    I’ve started buying half-gallons, because there’s no way I can go through a gallon of milk in five days.

  75. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Denver here. I get the gallon jugs at King Soopers and haven’t had any go bad in 2 years. Not sure the brand, I think it’s probably the Kroger “psudo-local” brand (all I care about is that it’s reasonably cheap at $2.99-$3.19 and it turns my coffee golden brown, not grey). I go through a gallon every month, give or take depending on if I’m making ice cream.

  76. trujunglist says:

    Milk is gross, and sour milk is especially gross. Thankfully, I’m one of the ones that rarely buys milk because I find the straight milk taste repulsive (combined with other things or very little straight I can handle), and then only for cereal or cooking, so I only get it when I’m going to use, and quickly.

  77. NYGal81 says:

    @LincolnK: I think organic milk sold commercially still has to be pasteurized. Raw milk, on the other hand, which is not sanctioned to be sold commercially (to the best of my understanding…), is not pasteurized.

  78. boss_lady says:

    @ptkdude: Yeah, not seeing the whole “scam” part of soy milk. My boyfriend recently switched to Silk as well, for three reasons (none of which being lactose intolerance):

    1. It lasts weeks longer (the carton we picked up last night is exp. dated for September)

    2. It may be more expensive initially, but he can keep it for weeks without having it go bad and make less trips to the store to replace a carton that went bad

    3. He really only uses milk in cereal, so the vanilla Silk actually makes cereal taste better

  79. NYGal81 says:

    @LincolnK: Oops! Guilty of not reading all posts before I respond! ;-)

  80. ORPat says:

    I have had the same problem with ” Grocery store” Milk. Started buying it a local Dairy convenience store chain and it lasts much longer.

  81. failurate says:

    I am thinking that supply is out-pacing demand. Maybe it’s sitting at the packaging plant longer. The labels on the packages/carton won’t change, but the milk going in will be older than previously packaged milk when demand was high and prices were low.

  82. Dilbitz says:

    I live in Northern IL, and my family’s a bunch of milk guzzlers. No matter how much I buy, I seem to run out before grocery day. I picked up a few of Friendly Farms brand 2% at my local Aldi’s for $2.29/gallon (which is insanely cheap around here). I haven’t had any problems with milk lately.

  83. Black Bellamy says:

    Damn cheap Chinese milk!

  84. PurplePuppy says:

    It’s all your own damn faults for not living next to a goat farm like me! Whenever you decide to take your milk seriously, you won’t have this problem. *I* watch it come out of the actual *goats* before I take it home!


    P.S. I really do live next to a goat farm, but I consider myself lucky.

  85. RunawayJim says:

    @luckybob343: It could be because you store it in the “milk compartment” in the door. That’s usually the highest point in the door and on the outside edge with most refrigerators. That’s actually the warmest spot in the fridge and could be part of the reason.

    I’m in Providence, RI and buy Hood 1% milk in the opaque plastic jugs. It lasts for about 2 weeks (though I usually go through it much faster than that).

  86. thesadtomato says:

    @theblackdog: You read my mind. I don’t drink milk, but I’ve had my soy milk, soy creamer, and cheeses go bad way faster than normal. Soy usually takes how long to go bad? Forever. It’s summer in Tennessee, I expect no less. Every time you open the fridge it makes a difference in how cold your food is, and those differences add up to shorter fridge-life.

  87. PurplePuppy says:

    Oh, and one more thing: raw milk never goes bad… it just becomes cottage cheese!

    I know, gross, but it’s true. It doesn’t “sour” (rot) but goes to curds and whey.

  88. tdarkdz says:

    I’m a big milk drinker, and can drink a gallon in a matter of days. I’ve always been able to taste the slight differences in milk as it ages. Recently I’ve noticed it was going sour faster than normal, but until now blamed it on my preference for milk from an unopened bottle.

  89. DrGirlfriend says:

    I have noticed this too but with a twist – the smaller the carton, the faster the milk turns. Sometimes I buy the pint-sized cartons of milk to keep at work, and those don’t last any more than 3-4 days. (This is Safeway’s Lucerne brand). I might give organic a shot and see how long that lasts.

  90. Ragman says:

    @MissTicklebritches: The milk compartment usually has an additional vent blowing straight into it, making it a colder chamber for the milk. On my Maytag, it’s called the “Cold Compartment”.

    I bought milk this past weekend at Wally World and it’s good until the 25th (2 weeks). It mostly lasts a week before it starts to turn, which by that time it’s almost empty.

    @AnderBobo: @TVarmy: I’ve wondered that about the stores. WalMart’s freezers seem to be just cold enough, but not for the trip home. It also seems that if they’re “skimming” the temps, that it would allow some melting while they’re restocking. From what I’ve seen, it looks like they put the pallets down the aisles before they start restocking, and having the freezer doors open for that amount of time may be allowing some melting to occur. Not to mention that some items have obviously had liquid water freeze on the boxes.

  91. queenofdenial says:

    Here in Wisconsin my milk is always good. That’s either because we go through it so fast it doesn’t have time to spoil or because I can milk a cow on any corner.

  92. failurate says:

    I do enjoy Silk soy-milk. Although I don’t use it as a substitute for milk, it’s kind of it’s own thing.

  93. NYGal81 says:

    @TVarmy: It might take on some staleness, I agree, but as far as spoilage proper (bitterness, acidity, curdling, etc.), I think I’ve heard that higher fat = slower spoilage. I know I’ve had the least spoilage with heavy cream, which has somewhere north of 30% milkfat. I have literally been able to keep opened heavy cream in my fridge for a couple of months at a time, and still use it safely for the duration. Now, it might taste a little like the carton it came in, but it’s not curdled, bubbly, or rancid.

    I wonder if different fats work differently for their respective products? Clearly the issue is not that fat will stave off spoilage indefinitely, since even pure oils (fats) will go rancid eventually. But maybe how fat operates in milk is different than how fat operates in nuts? I’m not sure on that one.

  94. orlo says:

    Here in the MA still getting 7-9 days past the “best by” date (14 days past NYC date). Probably the executives at some chain decided to raise the temperature in their coolers by 2 degrees as a “service to their valued customers”. Powdered milk ftw.

  95. Absolutely have noticed this over the past few months with milk purchased from Vons and Ralph’s in San Diego area. Now I know I’m not alone. This is the kind of stuff I love about Consumerist, as I would never have thought that this could actually be a widespread issue without reading it here.

  96. crackers says:

    I have definitely noticed my milk turning before the sell-by date recently. It’s happened to me at least 4 times in the last 3 months. I thought it was my fridge, so I turned down the temp and succeeded in freezing my cucumbers while my milk still spoiled.

    I also recently bought a big tub of plain yogurt that was totally spoiled (though it looked fine) at least a week before its “sell by” date.

  97. We use milk really fast, but I’ve noticed that I come across more leaking jugs now than ever. Produce and meat are expiring faster. I can’t keep either for more than a week and a half in the fridge (which I keep near freezing) without it goin bad. Especially processed meat like turkey bacon… it use to last FOREVER (seriously, sometimes I couldn’t believe it was still good after almost a month) and now it turns a couple days after I open it. :( I believe foods are being transported in warmer environments.

  98. crackblind says:

    Whole Foods 365 & Trader Joe’s seem to be the only regularly available organic milk that isn’t Ultra-Pasteurized. There’s a whole bunch of controversy about the vitamin content of milk that has been Ultra-Pasteurized versus regular Pasteurized. (Of course there’s a whole bunch of controversy about everything).

  99. tedyc03 says:

    same thing at georgetown safeway, DC

  100. @Aesteval: Good question! Sometimes I’m surprised at how often people never ask the question why organic/carton/tetrapak milk lasts longer. The answers above about long-lasting milk are correct.

    I assume that since some places in Europe don’t even refrigerate their UHT milk on the shelf that it’d be more immune to cheap drivers stateside too, even though they refrigerate it to make us feel better here.

    I also think they just make up arbitrarily short sell-by dates because Americans don’t like the thought of drinking milk that’s been sitting on the shelf for 6 months. Does anyone have an explanation of the super-long shelf life in Europe?

  101. MercuryPDX says:

    @Dobernala: I think people are confusing “Organic Milk” with “Raw Milk”.

    Raw Milk is unpasteurized and illegal.

  102. synergy says:

    YES! As a matter of fact, I just returned on Monday 2 gallons of milk with the same expiration date of 6/23 I’d bought the night before. Both tasted like they were turning.

    They need to remove the control of the refridgeration from the driver.

  103. aristan says:

    I worked in grocery stores for years. Started working in the dairy department of a major Southeastern Chain & left a job as Manager at a small Natural Foods chain just a few months ago. Here’s some reasons your milk may be going bad faster:

    – Truckers are cutting off the truck when they make deliveries to save gas. Used to, they’d leave the truck running at all times to make sure everything stayed nice & cold. When you shut the truck off, the trailer warms up. Rapid and repeated temperature changes degrade the milk.

    – Thinner plastics & “bio” plastics. They’re thinner & block less light. More light means the milk goes bad faster.

    – They’re waiting longer to get signed in & paid. A lot of milk isn’t sent out on huge trucks, it’s sent out on small trucks. The driver wheels in a few crates worth & waits for his check before he starts stocking it. The longer he stands there, the warmer the milk gets. And since all the milk in the truck is already warming up because it’s been cut off…

    – Moving from a “Sell By Date/Best By Date” to an “expiration date”. Milk used to have a “Best By Date” where the milk was still technically good for about 5-7 days after the date. I’ve seen more and more milk being given an “Expiration Date” now. Which means stuff that is now marked “Expires On July 27th” would have been previously marked “Sell By July 22nd”. This means that stores can keep it on the shelf longer than they used to.

    Just a tip: If you only use a little bit, don’t waste your money on “Fresh” milk. Horizon and Organic Valley make shelf stable (think Parmalat or the same “Tetrapak” boxes Soy Milk comes in) versions of their organic milk. If you’re not going to use a quart in a week, then you can get it in a “lunch box” size which is perfect for adding milk to your coffee.

  104. rockasocky says:

    @Angryrider: Whoa whoa whoa… So you’re saying it’s a “scam” because it’s Asian? Us sneaky Asians with our soy drinks trying to scam you?

  105. kc2idf says:

    We have not had this problem.

    We are in Schenectady, NY, and we purchase milk either from Stewart’s or from Hannaford.

    Stewart’s only carries their house brand, which is produced locally (Stewart’s is based in Saratoga, if I understand correctly).

    From Hannaford, we are getting the house brand, also, though I don’t know where it is produced. I know that they are based somewhere in Maine, but I doubt they are shipping the milk from that far away.

  106. garfield1979 says:

    I have a question.
    Why is it that people living in America enjoy having refrigerated milk to begin with…

    I used to live in France and Germany, and as far as i remember milk there was mostly not refrigerated, except it was pasteurized and sold in tetra-packs (brick shaped cartons) kind of like the Soy Dream milk is sold here. Except you could buy them 6 cartons to a pack. Refrigerated milk mostly the unpasteurized kind was in the refrigerated part anyways.
    Is the milk in the coolers at the US grocery stores unpasteurized?
    Is there a benefit to having so much milk in coolers, other than the fact that it’s cold when you bring it home from the store?
    What would it take for americans to buy milk in tetra-packs, they’re efficient and much much more ecologically sensible than plastic bottles requiring refrigeration from the minute they’re filled.

    Just my 2 cents…

  107. Aesteval says:

    One thing that I have noticed about milk is that it takes more
    effort to find a carton with a sell by date that is much more than a
    week away. And the amazing thing is that when I finally found someplace
    that did have gallons with a sell by date around two weeks away, they
    were also cheaper priced than all of the other places.

    @DrGirlfriend: The smaller the carton would
    fall in line to the ideas that have been proposed that the milk is
    being kept outside of an ideal temperature range for too long of a
    period of time. The smaller cartons have smaller volume and change in
    temperature faster than a larger volume would.

  108. Craig says:

    I had this happen last week for the first time. I thought something was wrong with my refrigerator.

  109. shortcake says:

    We used to get half-gallons but they would turn before we could finish them (maybe four days?). Now we get a quart every few days which seems to work. We finish it before it can get a chance to turn. Had a seriously moldy frozen pizza the other day – only a day or so after purchase. My produce isn’t lasting as long either anymore. I agree on the truck refrigeration theory.

  110. weakdome says:

    Absolutely. I’ve bought several milks lately that had gone bad within a day of bringing them home, and several others that were bad before opening them.
    I switched to Silk Vanilla since I only use it for coffee anyway. I hate milk except for what it does to coffee.

  111. PurplePuppy says:

    MercuryPDX: Saying raw milk is illegal is a VAST over-simplification. If the substance its self is “illegal” I’d be breaking the law all the time.

    It is illegal to sell in in grocery stores in most, but not all states. Washington State has several dozen grade A raw dairies that transport and sell all over the state. I live in Portland, OR, where it is TOTALLY legal to buy raw milk directly from the farm.

  112. Mary47 says:

    I’ve noticed this problem with orange juice.

  113. DanPVD says:

    This is why I buy my milk at the dairy, where it is often less than a day old.

  114. WocitJC says:

    Well, for all you that buy and store milk, here’s a tip to extend your shelf-life: get an old silver dollar or silver half-dollar (pre-1965) and drop it right in! Silver is a known anti-bacterial and will help to extend the life of your milk. It is what they used to use before refrigerators existed.

  115. failurate says:

    @JamieSueAustin: Turkey bacon is an abomination.

  116. jstonemo says:

    @rockasocky: It is a scam to call it milk. It is soy juice. I have never seen a teat on a soybean. It also tastes like the water they used to clean out the skim milk tanks.

    Milk in my area (KC, MO) stays good past the expiration date. If it starts to turn, blend in some sugar and fruit and call it yoghurt.

  117. failurate says:

    @Aesteval: Would make sense, at a lower price, they were probably turning over inventory faster.

  118. Yes! I thought I was taking crazy pills! I’m glad that other people are experiencing this too! Now that this problem is solved, how do I stop yelling!?!?

  119. Streyeder says:

    Hey Consumerist readers, read Consumerist readers!



    Somehow I remembered that. I dunno how I did, but I did.

  120. thesuperpet says:

    woah… I had noticed this too… I shop at Price Chopper in south central Mass.

    I’m going to start buying half gallons instead.

  121. sean77 says:

    I drink Lactaid. It tastes just like real milk but lasts forever.

  122. SpdRacer says:

    Is this a coastal thing or is it across the country? Reading the comments it seem like a lot of the people having issues live on the coasts, mostly east. Could be my imagination.

  123. kantwait says:

    @BustedWheel: Organic milk (and other organic or even “high-end” dairy products) last longer because of the ultra-pasteurization process, which makes them last a lot longer before spoiling. Definitely a great way to go; I’ve noticed a huge difference in the shelf life of the dairy I’ve been buying.

  124. peepytweep says:

    My husband is allergic to dairy (not that same as lactose intolerant), so I would buy a half gallon a week for myself. I about a month ago that by the end of the week it was going bad. We now buy trader joes vanilla soy for a $1.70 and we can both drink it. :)

  125. kantwait says:

    And I have also been having this issue (on the east coast, for reference), and I’ve had to throw away half-containers of milk before their sell-by date. I only sometimes buy organic but now I think I’m going to only buy organic since I’m not really saving money buying the normal stuff if I’m throwing half of it out every freaking week.

  126. chemmy says:

    Interesting note… New York City is the only place in the state and one of relatively few in the country that has its own dating system for fluid milk, which may legally be sold only up to 96 hours after 6 A.M. on the day after pasteurization. The rule is the same for whole, skim or low-fat fortified milk.

    So you’d think we don’t get it as well… right?

    I went into a local store by me last night to buy milk. The expiration date was still 3 days into the future so I figured it was still really fresh (and because of the NYC rule above – even fresher than for the rest of you.)

    I noticed all the quarts were bulging… To the point that I was afraid to touch them for fear of one bursting. I am standing there in front of the milk cooler (full cooler, not one of the open air ones) and the store owner comes back and says “don’t buy the milk – none of it is any good”

    He only got the delivery the day before and they’re all bad. Niiiiccceee..

  127. Hamm Beerger says:

    @garfield1979: I think there’s just a yick factor to buying milk off a shelf.

  128. hydrargyrum says:

    @jstonemo: *rolls eyes* I’ve never seen a cow produce peanuts either but it’s still peanut butter. And if you’re going to get technical, the water content in soy milk doesn’t come from the soybean (you have to add water to make it) so it’s not juice either. How about soy broth? Or soy stock?

  129. Etoiles says:

    @chemmy: So that’s why there are two dates on NYC milk. Makes sense now.

    Too bad neither date was ever any good. I’ve never had more spoiled milk, faster, than during my three years in the city. I eventually gave up on half-gallons unless I knew I would use them within 48 hours, because in Brooklyn and in two different neighborhoods in Manhattan, they all seemed to go bad within three days no matter where I bought them — Citarella or Anonymous Korean Bodega.

  130. Aesteval says:

    @failurate: It’s funny how sometimes the most obvious answer can be the hardest to see.

  131. garfield1979 says:

    Hamm, that’s too bad really. I think the realization of high oil price is going to shake the american lifestyle more than people are willing to admit.

    I for one am welcoming a change in american lifestyle. It will benefit all of us in the end.

  132. lowercase says:

    Wow, I thought I was nuts. I go through milk unevenly- some weeks I can go through a gallon in 3 days, other times a week. I’ve had 3 in a row go bad before I got through them, and it wasn’t because I was away or just tired of milk at the time. Might be time to switch to half gallons too. Orlando suburb, for what it’s worth.

  133. louveciennes says:

    Okay, call me a crunchy hairy-legged hippy if you will, but I SWEAR milk from cows treated with rBGH goes sour faster. A couple years ago I was switching between the 2, depending on where I bought it, and I was always having to throw out the rBGH milk before I’d finished it. And I a) drink milk every day and b) don’t buy it in huge jugs, so it’s not like it was sitting around for weeks at a time.

    I switched to non-rBGH Berkeley Farms (I live in the East Bay, CA) and haven’t had to throw out milk ONCE.

  134. jstonemo says:

    @hydrargyrum: You got me on the peanut butter. How about peanut paste? Sounds appetizing!

    Maybe producers could add soybean paste to make the soy “milk” similar to milk in mouth feel. I would rather drink whole milk instead of 2% just because of how it tastes and feels when I drink it, but my wife won’t let me.

  135. GrandmaSophie says:

    I think the Organic milk lasts longer because it’s more likely to be UHT instead of regular pasteurized. I don’t consider UHT to be a good thing, though.

    I live in Southeastern PA, and buy raw milk straight from farmers who’s farms I’ve visited. No problems here!

  136. mmmmdoughnuts says:

    I buy 4-6 Gallons at Sam’s club…have not had a problem, but with 5 milk drinkers in the house, a gallon a day is about what we drink. …so there is no time for it to go bad. I’m kinda scared to think about how much i am going to be buying when the boys are no longer 4, 2 and 2….

  137. This happened where I work. We got our milk from Safeway and the milk went sour about a week early. I was the one to discover that with my breakfast – yuck. This was about a month ago. I’ve never seen this happen before and I know Safeway wouldn’t want to piss my company off because we buy a TON of food from them.

  138. MercuryPDX says:

    @PurplePuppy: Crap… I knew I should have put illegal in quotes. I didn’t intend for it to be taken as “Drink raw milk : GO TO JAIL!”

  139. Being that my milk consumption comes mostly from white russians served at super sketchy dive bars, I run into this problem on, like, a daily basis. I think that’s what gives drinks down here their lagniappe or joie de vivre.

  140. AceLagicide says:

    Since I’ve been buying milk in New Orleans in my own house (about a year
    and a half now), I’ve never been able to trust the expiration date. The
    milk ALWAYS goes bad days before from the major companies around here.

  141. oxidative says:

    WinCo, Clackamas (Portland), Oregon. 2% 1/2 Gallon.

    I have noticed this as well over the past few months. Especially since it has started actually being Summer around here. I don’t drink a whole lot of milk so I definitely notice when it does not make it to the date on the container. I remember milk being good several days beyond the date.

    I’m a total nut about my fridge and have a digital thermometer inside. It’s holding steady at 40°F.

  142. unkle says:

    I have been purchasing milk from BJ’s in Queens and it has been going bad several days early. I thought it was only me, but now I am a believer in the conspiracy.

  143. oyvader says:

    We buy Lactaid milk at home, since my wife’s lactarded. The stuff’s a little pricy, bit it lasts for ages.

  144. Farquar says:

    Holy cow. hehe

    Who knew there’d be this much crying over spoiled milk.

    okay, I’ll stop.

    Anyway, in NC, and I haven’t noticed this, but I have noticed that meat has been spoiling at much faster rate since I’ve been here. We have to freeze chicken breast, or lunch meat immediately after bringing it home or it will be bad within 2 days. I had been blaming my refrigerator.

  145. ddaq89 says:

    Can I just say that milk is a product that is not needed by most of the population. What other living animal needs milk after it’s been weened from it’s mother?

    None. And neither do we.

    Case in point, how many lactose intolerent animals have you ever heard of? And how many people suffer from this problem every day (including myself). I won’t cite stats because we all know that 64% of all stats are made up on the spot and 93% of those stats are wrong 100% of the time.

  146. Ben Popken says:

    @ddaq89: Not really. That’s pretty off-topic.

  147. incognit000 says:

    I live in Wisconsin and the milk is fine, because I live in Wisconsin and they literally make it down the road. I could go get it right out of the cow if I wanted to.

    My father, however, has started buying half gallons instead of whole gallons, because the experation date is highly unreliable, and he can finish off a half gallon in a few days.

  148. Pennsylvanian123 says:

    @garfield1979: Because we are energy pigs, that’s why. They also don’t refrigerate eggs in Europe, and we wouldn’t have to either, except that the egg industry washes the protective coating from the eggs that would keep them from spoiling on the counter.

    We in America are only beginning to think about the impact of our little trips to the grocery store, and not enough of us. It makes me sick to look at all the 100 calories packs that keep popping up, like we need to put less and less into every package so we use as many resources as possible per bite of food.

    I know I’m ranting, but having spent a lot of time in Canada, everything we do here is just overbloated, overpackaged nonsense. Hopefully we’re learning. I’d like to start with outlawing bottled water and plastic bags myself, or at least making them prohibitively expensive. I’d also like to see bagged or boxed milk that is shelf stable. Way too much waste here.

  149. reznicek111 says:

    Maybe part of the problem is transport temperatures ..but also wondering if supermarkets are turning up their refrigerator thermostats a notch to save on power bills?

  150. merekat says:

    Two years ago when my s.o. and I moved into our house, I noticed our milk going bad a few days before the date. at first I thought it was our fridge, so I brought a thermometer home from work (I work in a foodbank), and found my fridge to be at the proper temp. I decided it was the ghetto-y Kroger’s where I was buying the milk, since other things I was buying there (cheese, OJ) were also going bad before they normally should. (I have also caught this particular store selling shelf-stable items past their ‘use by’ date). I bought milk at UDF and our local convenience store and had the same thing happen, so I switched to organic. Problem solved. The milk stays fresh for weeks (we don’t keep it in the door), and it tastes way better than the stuff I used to buy.

    I lived overseas a couple of times and liked the ‘box of milk’ I could buy – it was ultra-heat treated and came in a special box that didn’t required refrigeration until it was opened – really convenient!

  151. Sockatume says:

    Yeah, UHT milk is incredibly handy, especially if you forget to buy milk and only realise at 6am. At any rate, that the organic milk isn’t going bad suggests the problem is due to skimping on the part of the dairies, or the trucking companies they hire.

  152. texasannie says:

    I just noticed this recently. I had a half-gallon that had an expiration date of July 19th, but which was stinky yesterday morning. It came from a Kroger in Houston. It’s hot as hell here right now, but nothing else in the fridge seems to be having problems. Guess I’m switching to organic.

  153. citabria says:

    I’ve had to throw away about 25% of my milk here in East Texas before the expiration date.

  154. HooFoot says:

    No problems with milk, however my local grocery store has sold me bad eggs and moldy cheese within the past few months. Somebody along the supply chain is definitely cutting costs on refrigeration.

  155. Robobot says:

    I had some rare issues with Shanendoah’s Pride products in Virginia last month, but not nearly as frequently as some comments have reported.

    Now I’m in the D.C. area and I haven’t noticed any problems with milk for various brands and stores.

  156. I have 5 gallons of soy milk in my cabinet, nice and room temperature, and it can last like that for nearly a year… and it costs less too.

  157. sponica says:

    Yeah, I’ve noticed that my milk is souring before the expiration date as well, and I’m in Park Slope, Brooklyn AKA Yuppieville. I tend to buy my milk either at Pathmark or the Associated as they sell half gallons of milk in resealable plastic containers, as opposed to Key Foods which only has the cartons. I buy my milk every Sunday, so there’s usually a new carton if one happens to sour a couple days before the expiration date. Also it’s expiring before the NY sell by/expiration date which is usually earlier than the NJ date.

  158. jrobie says:

    I get lactose-free, fat-free milk, and as far as I’ve been able to tell, it lasts forever. The longest I’ve had a carton has been 1.5 months.

  159. Robobot says:

    @garfield1979: It’s kinda hard to believe, but unpasteurized milk is illegal in most of the U.S. and thus not on store shelves. The refrigerated stuff on shelves is pasteurized, but not to the extent, nor at the high temperature, of milk in Europe.

    Most Americans don’t really know about alternatives like milk in tetra packs. I didn’t until reading this comment section. If a grocery store offered such a product I’m not sure how positively people would respond as it is something completely new. Over time I think people, especially those with families who go through a lot of milk, would warm up to the idea. I definitely would!

    That’s assuming that the FDA allowed milk in tetra packs to make it on to store shelves. No all Americans are dumb, contrary to popular global beliefs, but our food and drug administration can be pretty stupid. For instance they require that companies wash the protective coating off eggs and it took YEARS for Quorn products to be made legal here.

  160. Not sure if it’s true but I’ve heard that raw milk tastes better then UHT. Some say raw tastes better then regular milk

  161. christoj879 says:

    @luckybob343: Levittown? No way! What section? I’m in Thornridge.

  162. timsgm1418 says:

    @twophrasebark: hmm I wonder if maybe it’s not poor refrigeration but cheaper packaging that doesn’t insulate it as well?
    I live in Maryland, and I only buy Lact-Aid milk and haven’t noticed any problems, but then I only buy in the carton, not gallon jugs

  163. timsgm1418 says:

    @oyvader: if you read the packaging on the Lact-aid milk it only lasts for ages BEFORE you open it, once you open it the shelf life is the same as regular milk

  164. ORPat says:

    Sorry Guys but Parmalatte (shelf stable milk) is sold in the US. Not common, but you can find it if you look. I use it on long camping trips. Unfortunately only Wal-Mart has it in my area.

  165. The_IT_Crone says:

    I’ve noticed the same thing. Not only is it souring faster, it’s souring before the date. I noticed that my milk from one store lasted about twice the length that milk from another store.

    I’d agree that something is going on. Maybe it’s not just one part of the journey? Maybe milk is no longer being picked up every day from the “farm” so they can have fuller trucks, same for where it is pasturized and where it is sold, etc. Maybe the stores turned down their coolers…

    Is it only happening with milk?

    I really don’t know. I just don’t like it.

  166. jacksbrokenego says:

    I moved to NYC 5 years ago and noticed immediately that milk was spoiled long before the exp. date no matter where I bought it – I always chalked it up to the store(mostly bodegas but not all) not turning up the refrigerator enough while it was on the shelf.

    I started buying organic and it’s well worth the price – the difference is crazy – it stays good for well over a week. For the extra money I spend, I don’t waste any in milk poured down the drain.

  167. TeraGram says:

    There’s only three of us in our family (daughter in grade school!) but we go through milk very fast. I can’t recall milk going bad before we use it up, but half & half used to all the time! Then, I started buying practically all our dairy products from Trader Joe’s. Now, all our dairy gets consumed before it spoils. Extra bonus: a gallon of milk is $1 cheaper, so is a quart of half & half. ALL HAIL TRADER JOE’S!

  168. duonexus says:

    I’ve noticed my milk smelling a little funky before its time, but since I convert the bulk of my milk into buttermilk it hasn’t been an issue. Buttermilk cultures at easily at room temperature, and lasts far longer than regular milk. All it takes is a little of the last batch of buttermilk added to some fresh milk to keep the culture going. Info can be found at Fankhauser’s Cheese Page, and the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. Buttermilk isn’t good for putting on your cereal or adding to your coffee, but it makes a delicious drink, and is excellent for making pancakes.

  169. amym says:

    Raleigh, NC – Haven’t had problems with milk going bad, but in Late ’07 and early ’08 Food lion issued recalls for milk going bad before its time.

  170. failurate says:

    Hmm… maybe all this is just because it is hot outside? More opportunities for the milk to reach an unsafe temperature.
    Should dairies have to adjust their expiration dates by season?

  171. cortana says:

    @aristan: “- Truckers are cutting off the truck when they make deliveries to save gas. Used to, they’d leave the truck running at all times to make sure everything stayed nice & cold. When you shut the truck off, the trailer warms up.

    – I’m going to disagree with this, because at least for the last 15 years or so (which it’s possible that the poster hasn’t worked in the industry since then), refrigerated trucks’ reefer units have a separate line to draw off the fuel tank, so they can run independently and keep the cargo cool even if the truck is off.

  172. goodywitch says:

    I left a cup of milk out for one day in a glass, and it turned into yogurt. Maybe it’s just not pasteurized enough? Milk lasts less than a week at my house anyway.

  173. FCAlive says:

    I think you should attribute it to the fact that is is July, duh.

  174. rworne says:


    Actually, I think it’s just confusion between “Organic” and “Raw” milk.

    The organic milk available here in Los Angeles has a really long shelf life because it is pasteurized more than the regular milk. The only place I ever found with similar dates on non-organic brands was from Costco. While cheap at Costco, we no longer have a need to go through 2 gallons at a time.

  175. puddleglum411 says:

    PEOPLE. There is nothing magical about organic milk that makes it last longer. It’s just that organic milk is usually ultra pasteurized, versus normal pasteurization, which takes place at a lower temperature. Trader Joe’s is an example where the organic milk is not UHT, and has typical milk shelf life. When I lived in Morocco, all the milk was ultra pasteurized, and they sold it in a box on the shelf, unrefridgerated.

  176. thelogikalone says:

    i drink a gallon of milk in 3-4 days myself so it doesnt matter really to me. best of luck to the rest of you.

  177. thelushie says:

    @kantwait: If you are not a big milk drinker or do not have growing younglings, organic milk is the way to go. We are not big milk drinkers but use it in cereal and cooking. We (two people) go through a carton before the expiration date. The carton I have now (Horizon 2%) has an expiration of Aug 19th.

  178. SinA says:

    if someone is selling something, for a profit, and there is a possibility that they could screw the customer for a larger profit.. they innevitably will screw with impunity.

  179. jblack says:

    @garfield1979: Refrigerated milk in the U.S. is much cheaper than shelf stable milk.

  180. watermelonpunch says:

    Wow – I’m not the only person who’s noticed the sell by dates are much sooner than they used to be!

    Though I can’t say I noticed it going bad faster, but I mostly use
    it for cooking, buy in quart size, take the container from the back of
    the store shelf, and store it at the back of my fridge.

    But I do think fresh fruits & vegetables are going bad faster than they used to.

    But I’m more likely to think it’s the way the stores are storing the goods being at issue.

    @NYGal81 – I agree. When you open the milk makes all the difference.
    And the fat content is also a big factor in spoilage. Half & half
    seems to last forever!!

    @ LincolnK- organic milk is NOT unpasteurized, if it’s sold in the
    grocery store, it’s subject to the same federal standards as the dairy
    farm your father works for.

    @rockasocky – I wondered the same thing about that Asian soy remark.
    I chalked it up to a particularly clueless form of bigotry. Soy is no
    less a food than any other, but because in the U.S. it’s usually used
    as “substitutes” for traditional American choices (like soy milk for
    regular milk, or tofu in place of meat), people seem to get this idea
    that it’s somehow artificial created in some lab… like sugar

  181. SOhp101 says:

    Yeah, i’ve experienced this too. I never keep milk even on the ‘sell-by’ date because by then I can already taste the rancidity.

    I should try organic, but that stuff is pretty expensive, and for fewer ounces too. I can swallow the premium for organic produce, but organic meat/dairy products are too expensive for me. And to think that they’re subsidized substantially by the US gov’t…

  182. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Folks, did you know you can freeze milk indefinitely? When I was young and poor and on food assistance, I had to buy more milk than I could use (a two-year-old didn’t drink much and I am mostly lactose intolerant). Freezing it kept it good far longer than if I just stuck it in the fridge and hoped for the best. I put it in ice cube trays and stored the cubes in plastic bags so I could just take out some cubes and thaw them quickly (in the fridge for drinking, thrown right into the pot for cooking).

    Nowadays I have a good job in IT and I can afford to buy soymilk. “Scam,” my foot. Just because “Soy Water” boy up there doesn’t like soymilk doesn’t make it a “scam.” I don’t like or drink beer because I think it tastes like a badly managed yeast infection mixed with spoiled bread, but I don’t therefore call it a “scam.” Someone is buying into that quack “Dr.” Mercola’s anti-soy vendetta, I fear (what is that man’s problem, I often wonder).

    I bought a machine like the ones they use in China and Japan, and I make my own. If made properly, soymilk tastes fine. The home recipe involves using enough beans, as fresh as you can buy them, the use of a judicious amount of oats and rice for the thicker mouthfeel Americans expect, a pinch of salt, and enough neutral sweetener to match the natural sweetness of milk. The key is knowing how to heat the beans to get rid of an enzyme that makes beans taste sour and another one that compromises the absorption of certain vitamins.

    It’s more simple than it sounds, since the machine does most of the work. You don’t have to do too much more than you have to do when you make a pot of soup.

    It’s kind of nice, in a weird way, reading through all these comments and knowing that as a vegetarian who doesn’t use dairy or eggs, I don’t really have to worry about this at my house.

  183. Davezter says:

    Hiland Milk was always fresh until the expiration date when we lived in Norman, OK. After moving to Tulsa (127 miles east), we have had to switch brands. In Tulsa, we never had a gallon of Hiland that was still drinkable within 5 days of the expiration date. We moved our refrigerator with us, so it isn’t a problem with our refrigerator. We asked the neighbors if they’d had problems with Hiland, and they said the exact same thing. There was a Hiland plant in Norman, so the milk there probably didn’t require any transportation, but I don’t think there is one in Tulsa, so that might explain why Hiland milk goes bad so quickly in Tulsa.

  184. baquwards says:

    we switched to organic ultra pasteurized about 6 months ago, even though it is a little more expensive, we have not wasted a drop since. The milk has paid for itself. It is the only ultra pasteurized besides lactose free available here. I had no idea so many people were on to my “secret”

  185. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    By the way, pasteurized milk does not sour. Instead, it spoils. True sour milk is like sour cream, useful to cook with. Spoiled milk is what happens when the milk gets rancid and bitter.

  186. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    No I have noticed it because like you I only drink organic milk. Not because I have an issue with regular milk or worry about what is in my milk, but because it lasts weeks longer and it takes me a month to drink a half gallon of milk. BTW, can anyone tell me why it is in fact, that organic milk last so much longer? I have a general idea but am not completely sure why.

  187. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    That should be No I have NOT noticed it instead of No I have noticed it because like you I only drink organic milk.

  188. gizmo84 says:

    Same thing just happened to me here in San Jose, CA. the milk went bad about 3 days before the date on the carton. Anyone else in the bay area experience this?

  189. opazhman says:

    first time a few weeks ago. Berkley farms brand i live in bay area California

  190. FrankReality says:

    I’ve noticed this, but it’s no worse this summer than other summers.

    When the nearest grocery is 25 miles away, it’s difficult to keep the milk cool, especially when it goes in the trunk. As for ice cream – not a chance of getting that home cold.

    So we usually get the milk at the nearest convenience store – that’s only 6 miles away.

    I suppose an insulated cooler with an ice bath could keep it cold and make it last longer, but it’s not worth the effort/expense.

  191. jeffimix says:

    Don’t seem to have this problem. I go through a gallon a week (on my lonesome!) and generally buy anything from Kroger’s (which doesn’t mean much, as it has to be local anyways, Los Alamos here) no-fat to whole. Before that it was Econo Foods in Michigan.

    I’d say that whole tastes better longer, but that’s probably just an effect of the higher fat milk tasting stronger in the first place.

  192. poornotignorant says:

    @Ben Popken: Why do you think that is not true? Any adult mammal should get calcium from the same source as the cow does – greens(spinach, collards, kale, what us humans should eat). Cuts out the middle man(cow). Land is more efficiently used, we avoid the fat and cholesteral.
    As for the comment about Asian soymilk ‘scam’:I may have misunderstood but Asian soymilk is way cheaper than mainstream brands like Silk. So the scam is by the americanization of soymilk. I have tried to like the less expensive soymilk from asian markets, but can’t. But why is Americanized soymilk so much more expensive? By the way – the best store bought soymilk I’ve ever had is Pathmark.

  193. poornotignorant says:

    @poornotignorant: FYI I am not a vegetarian

  194. shepd says:


    UHT milk tastes vastly different from refrigerated milk. I’ve had both, and with some work, you can actually find UHT milk here. Personally, I drink so little I’d normally buy them if it weren’t for my wife. :-)

    IIRC, UHT milk tastes more “plasticy”. I know that’s not a good description, but it is definitely different. Non-UHT milk seems to be more watery, at least to me.

    That and UHT milk is more expensive, at least here, due to the sizes sold. 1 L of UHT milk (the tetra brick size) is the price of a 1 L container of regular milk. However, most people in Canada buy their milk in giant bags in sets of three, generally each bag has a bit more than 1 L of milk in it. Litre by Litre, bagged milk is about 30 – 50% cheaper than 1 L catrons/bricks. Unless UHT milk begins to compete with that price, it will NEVER be popular here.

    As a member of the lactose intolerant community (thank God for Lactaid) Americans/Canadians have so much damn milk in their diet, price is the major factor. There’s just not that much milk in the European diet (comparatively) to justify NOT using UHT milk. In fact, there’s so much milk, I have to request lactose free lunches when there’s lunches served at meetings at work — no way I’m talking a half dozen lactaids for lunch!

  195. That’s funny because my wife and I were just talking about this, we are trying organic milk because of this and have found that it is lasting longer… the cows are getting upset.

  196. ChuckECheese says:

    @garfield1979: The pasteurization of milk is a detailed topic. There are many different types of pasteurization, each giving different storage lengths to milk. You have seen lots of UHT milk in Europe, but this hasn’t caught on here, because UHT milk has a “cooked” flavor; the production costs are higher (even though the storage costs are lower); and the packaging (tetra-pak) is more expensive. Moreover, tetra-paks aren’t easily recycled. Nonetheless, the main reasons Americans have chilled milk and Europeans don’t are largely cultural, related to household management habits and family size.

    UHT milk is available in many U.S. groceries, usually near the powdered milk. It costs considerably more than “fresh” milk, but it’s a nice thing to keep in the pantry for those times you run out of milk and cannot go to the store.

    American milk is pasteurized less than UHT milk, and must be kept cold. The same thing was done in Europe until about 35 years ago. Before the regular pasteurization of milk, milk was a common source of serious diseases, including tuberculosis. A safe milk supply was such a great concern, and the expenses of building and running pasteurization plants so great, that most U.S. states mandated the sale of pasteurized milk, and forbade the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk. This is why you cannot find raw milk in much of the U.S.

    If you are interested in finding sources of raw, unpasteurized milk in your area, browse here: []

    Eggs (even in the U.S.) can be stored at room temperature, but won’t keep for more than 7-10 days, and they will deteriorate in quality rapidly during that week.

    Here are some sites on milk safety and pasteurization:

  197. legwork says:

    How many threads have picked up this much “me too” traffic? If the problem is really this widespread it could turn into a disastrous cost increase and market share loss for dairy.

    Has anyone seen mention of it on big media?

    We’re a mixed house. I’m a believer in getting my nutrition without the baggage of big-milk business while my gf swears by raw milk. I make scrunchy face every time the stuff touches one of my favorite glasses. Guess neither of us would cry if big dairy lost out, unless maybe it was to another flipping bottled water product.

  198. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @poornotignorant: Why is Americanized soymilk so expensive, you asked? I’ll take a stab at that.

    I live in a part of Houston that is close to a large Asian district on one side and to a middle-class uptown district on the other. So I shop in an Asian market for things I use in vegetarian cooking, and at HEB in the other (HEB, HQ’d in San Antonio, is the local best grocery with some of the lowest prices). I also shop at Whole Foods. The cost for a quart of soy milk at HEB or Whole Foods (depending on brand, usually Westsoy or Silk) is roughly the same as a half gallon of Asian soy milk at Golden Foods or Hong Kong Market.

    My take on this is that Silk and Westsoy charge what the market will bear. They come in special cartons (TetraPak and refrigerator cartons) and are processed to stay fresh much longer (as vegetable-derived food often does anyway). It contains chemical ingredients (natural ones, like titanium dioxide) to adjust the color and flavor to more of a “milkshake” taste that Americans can tolerate better. We expect our milk to be virtually tasteless and slightly sweet, and that’s what they give us. We’re used to paying more for specialty dairy products, so they meet that expectation as well.

    Asian soy milk, around here, is produced mostly by the local Banyan tofu factory. Tofu is make out of soy milk. Banyan’s tofu is excellent and so is their soymilk, but you wont like the soymilk if you don’t like tofu. It is natural, beans and water, but you can get it sweetened with sugar if you want. It’s packaged in plastic milk cartons with a simple, two-color-process label. This makes it unattractive to Americans because it looks a bit junky and tastes “off.”

    Since we also have a huge Hispanic population, you will often see the rice milk preparation called horchata in the Fiesta grocery stores. It is usually pretty heavily sweetened and flavored, and way overpriced at that. Rice milk, as a nondairy milk, can be worth it if you don’t like the taste of soy, and can be made easily at home with little more than a handful of cooked rice, water, a little salt and sugar, and a good blender.

    Like I said above, I make my own (soy/rice/oat milk, rice milk, nut milk, and horchata). I can adjust the ingredients until I have combinations I like. Each batch comes out to a dime to a quarter per 1-1/2 quarts (the machine’s capacity). And I know where it came from.

  199. sponica says:

    @FrankReality: Distance from the supermarket isn’t a factor in my milk deciding it doesn’t want to last as long as it should. I have 3 grocery stores in 10 blocks, and even my ice cream survives the trip on the hottest day of the year from the one furthest away from me.

    I try to keep my milk in the back of the fridge, so that it isn’t exposed to the air every time I open the fridge door.

  200. xnihilx says:

    Milk aside, are some of you just taking for granted that your refridgerator is operating at the ideal temperature? I made it a priority to install a fridge thermometer in the fridge and freezer parts when I bought our fridge when we moved into our house. Good thing, the first one didn’t work properly, of course the ice was melty so that was a big give away besides the not close to 0 degree freezer. Seriously, the thermometers are only a few bucks at your local megamart go buy one and stop taking chances that things are “cold enough.” Wouldn’t it be better to know that it isn’t your milk and not get sick from other foods and possibly get your fridge fixed under warrenty then get food poisoning?

  201. RobinB says:

    I read this yesterday, and wouldn’t you know, I opened a new carton of 1/2 and 1/2 this morning and it was bad. Exp date not until August 10!

  202. Joey B says:



  203. dieman says:

    We’ve decided to hunt out the UHT milk and just have that on hand. It keeps better in a 2-person household and we can buy 2-3 half gallons at a time rather than have to go back and pick up a half gallon every week.

  204. TheNerd says:

    Ounce for ounce, soymilk just has more nutrients in it.

    Also, know how doctors always say “breast is best” for our children? That’s because milk is talilored to fit humans, with the proper antibiotics and hormones in it. Now, why would we want to drink milk that is tailored to fit cows, with cow hormones in it? I’m not saying it’s going to cause cancer or anything that extreme, but if cow milk is made to get little calves big and hefty like mom and dad, wouldn’t that be the opposite of what a human would want to drink who is trying to stay thin?

  205. The Reviewer says:

    Mine went bad last week earlier by a week than the date Austin Texas, HEB.

  206. garfield1979 says:

    @ChuckECheese: Thanks that was an insightful post. I still find it hard to believe that the costs of refrigeration, transportation and storage outweigh the costs of pasteurization, but i’ll take your word for it.

    That said,

    I stick to my Soymilk, it’s healthier in the end anyways.

  207. michellew7 says:

    We’ve noticed this in the Northern Virginia (DC) area for about a year. The way we deal with this issue is by buying organic milk, which seems to last longer.

  208. eliot99 says:

    We had a similar problem when our refrigerator needed replacing and we didn’t know it. Our milk was spoiling before the expiration date. The milk seemed cold enough when we would drink it, but nevertheless, it was spoiling prematurely. It turned out that during the night, the temperature would rise inside the refrigerator because it was failing. It would then return to normal. We suspected it was happening during the freezer defrost cycle. So, my experience tells me that even a temporary rise in temperature can cause milk to spoil prematurely.

  209. ChuckECheese says:

    @TheNerd: So as humans we should only drink milk from our species? What about other foods? We don’t eat anything from our own species so far as I know. But thanks for making a plug for cannibalism.

  210. This is something my wife and I have noticed as well. I would assume it is due to something along the production line, something like “take in less milk -> send it out the door sooner” and as a result, it can stay on the shelf longer. That’s my simple theory anyway.

  211. stronty says:

    I’ve been noticing this for the last 5 or 6 years, milk has been going bad before the expiration date. Growing up, my family used to buy 5-8 gallons at a time and we never had milk go bad. Now that I’m out on my own I get half gallons going bad a few days before expiration. This modern milk doesn’t taste as good as the stuff I drank 20+ years ago.

  212. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @ChuckECheese: I bite my fingernails.

    No, but seriously, lactose tolerance exists in a fraction of adult humans. They wouldn’t be able to tolerate human milk either.

  213. Illiterati says:

    In NYC, milk cartons have 2 sell-by dates. The NYC date is a few days earlier. I suspect it’s because crates of milk sit out on the sidewalk waiting to be put into the store’s refrigerator. There just isn’t space in the city for big refrigerated trucks to back right up to the store and unload directly into the cooler. Buying any kind of dairy or meat in New York is a crapshoot.

  214. OtakuboyT says:

    Same here with my Jewel milk, usually I drink a lot of milk but one in a while I have Milk about 5 days before the sell by date and it goes bad.

  215. bkonkel says:

    @chrisjames: I’m having the exact same problem with Kroger milk. I’ve always bought it in the quart size specifically so that it wouldn’t go bad before I’d gotten through it. Like LuckyBob, I was starting to think that it was a problem with my fridge.

  216. burddog says:

    I just got a 1 gallon jug of milk that was bad a week and a half before the sell-by date. No idea what went wrong there, but it smelled like bad fruit when I opened it.

  217. burddog says:

    Oh and I live in brooklyn. It was also almost a week before the In NY date.