How Long Does Fresh Milk Last? Essential Guide to Dairy Lovers.

If you love dairy products, then fresh milk is most likely on top of your grocery list. Milk is one of the most versatile and nutrient-rich beverages we have. It’s a common ingredient in most households, and it offers endless possibilities in the kitchen. But how long does fresh milk last before it goes bad? Read on to learn more.

What is Fresh Milk?

Fresh milk, also known as raw milk, is milk that has not undergone any heat treatment, pasteurization, or homogenization. It is milk that comes straight from a healthy cow, goat, or sheep. Unlike pasteurized milk, fresh milk has not been heated to destroy bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Fresh milk is considered a wholesome food by many because of its high nutrient content.

How Long Does Fresh Milk Last?

The shelf life of fresh milk varies based on different factors, such as its storage conditions, packaging, and if it has been pasteurized or not. Generally, fresh milk can last up to 7-14 days if it is refrigerated and stored properly. The best temperature to store fresh milk is between 34-39°F. If the milk is stored at room temperature, it can last for a few hours, but it is not recommended.


The type of packaging can also affect the shelf life of fresh milk. Milk is often packaged in glass bottles, plastic jugs, or cartons. Glass bottles can keep the milk fresh for a more extended period because they offer better protection against light and air. Plastic jugs and cartons are porous, meaning that they can allow bacteria growth or air to penetrate, making the milk spoil faster.


Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to eliminate harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, that can cause foodborne illnesses. Pasteurized milk can last up to two weeks, while ultra-pasteurized milk can last for up to two months if it is unopened and refrigerated. However, once the milk has been opened, it should be consumed or used within 7-10 days, regardless of the type of pasteurization.

How to Tell if Milk is Spoiled

It is crucial to check if the milk is still fresh before consuming or using it to avoid causing health problems. But, how can you tell if milk is spoiled or not? Here are some signs to look for:

  • Off-odor or sour smell
  • Discolored or chunky appearance
  • Sour taste
  • Lumps or curds
  • Mold growth on the surface

If you notice any of these signs, it is best to dispose of the milk immediately.

How to Store Fresh Milk Properly

The following are some tips on how to store fresh milk to prolong its shelf life:

  • Store milk in the refrigerator at 34-39°F.
  • Keep milk away from light and heat sources, such as direct sunlight or stove.
  • Ensure that the refrigerator temperature is stable, and the milk is not placed in the door or near the back of the refrigerator.
  • Never store milk in the same container as other foods.
  • Milk should always be kept in its original container or transferred to a clean airtight container.

The Benefits of Fresh Milk

Fresh milk offers a wide range of health benefits due to its high nutrient content. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, and many more.

Calcium has been shown to promote bone health, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Potassium helps maintain blood pressure and heart health. Magnesium promotes nerve function and healthy muscles. And these are just a few of the many vitamins and minerals present in fresh milk.

The Bottom Line

Fresh milk is a great source of nutrients, and it’s a delicious beverage that you can enjoy in different forms. However, it’s essential to store it properly and check for signs of spoilage before consuming it. By adopting these measures, you can extend its shelf life and ensure that you get to enjoy the goodness of fresh milk for a long time.


  • 1. Can I freeze fresh milk?

    Yes, you can freeze fresh milk to prolong its shelf life. However, it is recommended to consume it within three months of freezing.

  • 2. Can I still use milk if it has gone bad?

    No, it is not safe to consume milk that has gone bad. It can cause foodborne illnesses and harmful health effects. Always discard milk that has gone bad.

  • 3. Can I drink milk if I am lactose intolerant?

    If you are lactose intolerant, you can drink lactose-free milk, which is processed to eliminate lactose, or other plant-based milk, such as soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk.

  • 4. Can I boil fresh milk?

    Yes, you can boil fresh milk; boiling fresh milk helps to kill any bacteria present in it. However, it can change the milk’s taste, texture, and consistency.

  • 5. Can I use milk that was left out overnight?

    No, it is not safe to consume milk that has been left out overnight, especially if it is not properly stored or refrigerated. Always store milk in the refrigerator at the right temperature and discard any milk that has been left out for more than two hours.


  • The Dairy Alliance. (2021). How Long Does Milk Last? Retrieved from
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Safe Handling of Milk and Dairy Products. Retrieved from
  • FDA. (2019, February 21). Milk and Milk Products. Retrieved from

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