Exact Answer: 7 days
Rich in antioxidants and micronutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, and folate, orange juice is loved by many across the world. Orange juice boasts of many health benefits, like improved heart health, reduced risk of kidney stones, and decreased inflammation, and an overall enhancement of the immune system.
As orange juice is available in both packaged and freshly squeezed forms, the demand for the juice is always on the rise. According to Bloomberg, the US recorded a 46% increase in the retail sales of orange juice, just within a four-week period in 2020. This beats the record set for highest retail sales for orange juice, which was set in 2015. Almost six years ago!
Unfortunately, like all things perishable, orange juice becomes spoiled eventually.
How Long After The Expiration Date Is OJ Good?
|Type||Time till it goes bad|
|Refrigerated + Unopened OJ||7 days beyond expiration date|
|Refrigerated + Opened OJ||Within 7 – 10 days of opening, regardless of expiration date|
|Unrefrigerated + Unopened OJ||12 to 18 months (from packaged date)|
|Unrefrigerated + Opened OJ||5 to 7 days after opening, regardless of expiration date|
If the orange juice is both refrigerated and unopened, it is safe to drink it for 7 days beyond its expiration date. This is only guaranteed if the juice has been continuously refrigerated. However, in order to extend its shelf life, you may choose to freeze it in an airtight container with at least a half inch empty space at the top. Freezing this OJ can increase its shelf life to up to 8 to 12 months.
If the orange juice is refrigerated and opened, it will only last for about 7 to 10 days after opening, regardless of its expiration date, considering that it has been refrigerated continuously. Similarly, you can freeze the orange juice to make it last longer. Stored in an airtight container, with a 1/2 inch headspace at the top can maintain its quality and increase its shelf life to 8 to 12 months.
If the orange juice is unrefrigerated and unopened, then it will be safe to drink for 12 to 18 months, provided that it is stored at room temperature. You can choose to freeze it to extend its shelf life, for up to 8 to 12 months.
If the orange juice is unrefrigerated and opened, then it will be safe to drink for about 5 to 7 days after opening, regardless of its expiration date. Once again, you can store it in the freezer to maintain its quality. This increases its shelf life to 8 to 12 months.
Why Does OJ Stay Good For That Long After The Expiration Date?
Most commercially packed orange juices are pasteurized and made with preservatives, which extends their shelf life significantly.
But once it’s past its prime time, the OJ can become contaminated with microorganisms that may harm your health. After its expiration date, the juice will start to smell sour like vinegar or alcohol. In addition, the juice may be discolored, and can appear darker in color.
Due to the microorganisms that give off gases inside the container, it may appear bloated or expanded. The container may even be bulged because of fermentation, the process through which bacteria break down the juice, converting the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.
The spoiled juice will most probably taste unusually fizzy, sour, and rancid. In addition, there may be mold in the form of light or dark spots on the walls of the container or masses of mold in the juice. This can be verified if you pour the juice into a transparent glass, to inspect it for mold.
The microorganisms in the juice carry food-borne illnesses and can make you very sick if ingested. Drinking spoiled orange juice can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and an upset stomach. In serious cases, ingesting certain microorganisms in the juice can lead to difficulty breathing, dizziness, high fever, and can require immediate medical attention.
Hence, orange juice can only be safe to drink for a particular period of time after its expiration date.
Even though commercially packed orange juices contain the ‘Best By’ date, whether you can drink it or not almost always depends on whether the physical condition of the juice is good or not. The date usually just specifies the estimated duration for which the juice stays at best quality, and you may even drink it well after the date, as long as the juice does not show any signs of it being spoiled.
Always remember to keep orange juice in a cool and dark area, and keep it away from heat and light sources. Moreover, seal the container tightly. Freezing can be very helpful for elongating the juice’s shelf life.
Those who have complications with their immune system, and those who are pregnant, are advised to avoid expired or unpasteurized juice.
Note that the expiration date is not the only indicator as to whether you can drink the orange juice or not. So, it’s best to check the condition of the juice before you drink it. The expiration date is merely an indicator of quality, not safety.