How long can milk really keep?

Look, we've all been there. Went grocery shopping, filled the fridge, and then promptly went out for dinner for the week, leaving the stuff to rot. Most of it won't keep. But then there's that bottle of milk that you took a sip out of the first day, and it's still within the expiration date? What's a guy to do?

According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), you shouldn't.

When food is consumed fresh its nutritional value is at its highest, and milk is no exception. A nutrition powerhouse that supports our heart and bone health, milk is actually a delicate produce that is best consumed quickly once opened. It is important to cultivate the habits of drinking milk fresh early, and understand the different ways of handling and storing milk safely to fully capture the goodness of it. Basically, after spending a few bucks on your Magnolia milk, the last thing you want is to get a crappy, less-nutritious version of it, right?

Don't be kiasu

Before you pop that milk carton into your trolley at the supermarket, think. You should purchase milk in quantities that mirror your household's consumption level. Purchasing it in two-litre packs may be economical due to some offer of sort, but you're gonna find it tough to finish it all within three days of opening. Buying two one-litre packs of milk, on the other hand, makes it easier to finish the smaller opened packs within three days.

What does the use-by date mean?

So, it's an indication as to when the milk will remain safe and fresh for consumption. But while it indicates how long that's the case as long as the milk is unopened, all bets are off once you've popped the milk's cherry. The milk is then exposed to bacteria and begins to lose quality rapidly.

Temperature matters

Another way to preserve your milk- plan your buying. Only pickup the milk and dairy products last when shopping so those don't warm up. Upon reaching home, the milk should be refridgerated right away, and stored at temperatures between two to four degrees.

So what's the risk?

Most types of bacteria are killed by heat when milk is pasteurized. It's possible for milk to become contaminated after it's pasteurised, but even under clean conditions, some sneaky bacterial spores survive processing. Not only that, but they also grow under cold temperatures, so refrigeration slows them down but doesn't stop them. These thermoduric bacteria are the ones usually responsible for milk spoilage beyond the expiration date on the carton.

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