We’ve all been here – you reach for your favorite container of yogurt in the fridge, only to realize that the best before date has come and gone. Should you toss it out, or is it safe to eat?
Food waste is a major issue worldwide, and one of the contributing factors is consumers throwing out food that’s perfectly safe to eat. Yogurt is one of those foods that can be eaten past its best before date, but how long is too long?
Knowing when to toss out food is important for both your wallet and the environment, but it can be confusing when it comes to certain items like yogurt. Here’s what you need to know about eating yogurt after the best before date and how long it can last in your fridge.
Yogurt is generally safe to eat for up to two weeks past the best before date, as long as it has been stored at a temperature of 40°F or below and has not been opened. If the yogurt smells or tastes sour, it’s likely past its prime and should be discarded.
It is important to note that consuming expired yogurt can increase your risk of foodborne illness, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and toss it when in doubt.
The easiest way to tell if your yogurt is still good is to give it a smell. If the odor is unpleasant or sour, it’s time to discard it. You can also check for any signs of mold or spoilage , which is usually a clear indication that the yogurt has gone bad.
To help keep your yogurt fresh longer, here are some tips to remember:
• Store all yogurts in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower and use them within two weeks of opening.
• Keep containers of yogurt away from foods with strong odors, as these can transfer to the yogurt.
• Store yogurt in an airtight container to prevent spoilage.
• Freeze yogurt for up to three months for extended shelf life.
Smell is one of the best ways to tell if yogurt has gone bad. Yogurt often smells sour or rancid when it has spoiled, so it’s best to throw it out when that is present. However, be aware that some types of yogurt such as plain yogurt may have a light tangy scent naturally and this should not necessarily indicate spoilage. That said, if you are at all unsure whether yogurt has gone bad or not then the best bet is to discard the product. In addition to smell, other indicators of spoilage include texture changes and signs of mold growth.
When assessing yogurt for spoilage be sure to check the container’s expiry date and evidence of any leaks on the packaging that might indicate microbial growth. An ordinary yogurt product will last around three weeks after expiration date if kept chilled at all times between 0-4°C once opened and stored correctly in the refrigerator. If there are any signs of lumpiness in the texture and/or an off odor, that should prompt further inspection as these could point to some sort of microbial population in your food which may cause food poisoning symptoms if ingested. Buds or other spore-forming organisms such as Bacillus cereus may also pose a risk so regular hygiene practices and careful inspection of yogurt is advised.
When it comes to eating expired foods, we often get worried about our safety and health, especially when it comes to dairy products like yogurt. Thankfully, federal law does not require food products to have an expiration date printed on them with the exception of baby formula. The “best by” date stamped on your yogurt simply lets us know when the product will be at its peak flavor. While there may be some changes in the taste after this date passes, it is completely safe for us to consume yogurt past this date. According to food safety specialist Benjamin Chapman, PhD, all that will happen is that the yogurt will become more acidic and ferment more over time in our refrigerator; however, this doesn’t present any health risks as long as we drink within a reasonable amount of time and refrigerate it appropriately. Therefore, eating expired yogurt should not be a worry for consumers!
As with most foods, yogurt will last longer than the expiration date if it has not been opened yet. Generally speaking, unopened yogurt can stay fresh and edible for up to a month past its “best by” date. This is mostly true of plain yogurts, as those with any sort of fruit added may not be as safe or flavorful after this point and should be thrown out on or shortly after the best by date.
If you do choose to risk eating yogurt that is past its expiration date, it can still be risky depending on how long we have gone over. Once opened, yogurt tends to have a much shorter shelf life and may only last about a week past the printed date before starting to spoil. To ensure food safety, it’s best to play it safe and throw away yogurt well prior to its expiration date so that there is no concern of foodborne illness from eating expired dairy products.
When it comes to spoiled yogurt, it’s important to learn the difference between yogurt that is simply out of date and yogurt that has been left unopened for too long. Yogurt that is on the vintage side may only cause a slight stomach ache if eaten; however, those who eat yogurt that has gone bad will likely experience far more serious symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting due to foodborne illness. In most cases, good judgment can usually tell if something should or shouldn’t be eaten – if your yogurt tastes off, then it’s best not to take the risk and throw it away.
It should also be noted that spoiled yogurt won’t always lead to illness. Eating expired cheese or bread don’t often cause health issues due to their denser texture; however, dairy-based products like yogurt are typically more susceptible to bacteria from improper storage temperatures. Although most yogurts keep well in the fridge for about two weeks after opening, it’s important not to push beyond this limit lest you risk getting ill from eating expired yogurt.
Making sure your yogurt stays fresh is key to getting the most out of its pleasing flavor and beneficial nutritional content. To ensure your yogurt maintains its quality, it’s best to refrigerate it as soon as possible after purchasing. The fridge should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower – this conceals bacteria from growing so that it stays firmer for longer. When you need to use the yogurts, make sure to use a clean spoon each time and to always reseal the lid or packaging tightly afterwards. If you buy more than you think you can eat within a few weeks, put it in the freezer instead. Yogurt may be stored in there for about one to two months without affecting its taste qualities when defrosted and consumed later on. Following these simple tips will enable you to keep your yogurt as fresh as possible for whenever you’re ready for a snack or meal time treat.