How Long Is Milk Good For (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 to 5 Days

Milk is the most commonly consumed naturally available substance in every part of the world. It is produced by the mammary glands of mammals and is the first food that is consumed by a newborn mammal. Newborn mammals are unable to digest solid foods and thus, milk is the best form of food with them along with adults.

Whether humans or any other mammal, milk is a very nutritious food. Human milk gives 72 kcal of energy on the consumption of every 100 grams. Similarly, the milk of cows and buffalos gives approximately 66 kcal and 110 kcal of energy.

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How Long Is Milk Good For?

Form Of MilkTime Consumable
Unpacked Milk2 to 4 days
Packaged Milk
The package remains unopened and refrigerated.A Week
Package is opened3 to 5 days
Reduced fat and skimmed milkA week
No fat and free from lactose milk9 to 10 days

The time for which the milk lasts and is fit to consume depends on its condition and storage. Generally, milk is accessible both in packaged and unpackaged forms. In large parts of Asia and Africa, unpackaged and direct milk is all that is consumed, but in developing countries packaged and fortified milk is used.

If the milk consumed is unpackaged and unfortified, there are chances that it would last for a period well near a week. It would last for a minimum of two to four days.

When the milk is sold as packed and is also fortified, the chances of it lasting for longer increase substantially. In this case, if the package remains unopened, it can last well beyond a week and further, if refrigerator.

However, if the same is opened sooner, its shelf life decreases to a considerable extent. It results in milk lasting for a few days less and can last for a period of three to five days.

However, the milk to be packed is processed, its fat is reduced and the milk is skimmed, it has the potential to last for near a week. Moreover, if the fat is completely removed and the milk is free from lactose, it would last much more than a week. Such packages of milk can last for about nine to ten days.

Why Milk Lasts For So Long?

Bottled or packaged milk can last for so long due to a variety of reasons. The most important of these has been the progress made in the field of science and technology, among others. Science and technology have made several changes in the supply chain of milk making it last longer than usual.

Milk farms are the first stage of any milk supply chain. For the milk to be safe to consume for longer, it must be produced in proper hygienic conditions. The cows need to be in a good shape and the milking utensils or the storage equipment should be clean and properly kept.

Before the milk reaches the processing factories, it is tested for its quality. Only the best quality milk must reach the factory and then the consumer’s homes.

Once the milk reaches the factories, the scientific and technological processes kick in to make the milk last longer. One important step in this regard is the process of pasteurization. This process makes sure that all the harmful bacteria present in this milk get eliminated while leaving the positively impacting bacteria.

These improvements in milk processing and packaging make the milk last longer.


Typically, unbottled or unpackaged milk can last for as long as two to four days. However, when the same is packed, fortified, and refrigerated, it can last for four to eight days. Moreover, if the milk is processed and its fat content is reduced, it would last longer and sometimes, for nearly two weeks, if the fat content is completely removed.

The improvements in the domain of science and technology have made milk last longer. There has been better farm management, better milk testing with new methods, and technologically improved milk processing techniques.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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