How Long Can Milk Sit Out?

February 27, 2017

Everyone wants to keep their milk fresh as long as possible, but did you know that how long your milk sits out can impact that?

In general, perishable foods like milk should not sit out of the refrigerator or cooler for longer than two hours. Cut that time down to an hour in the summer if the temperature reaches 90 degrees F. After that time frame, bacteria can start to grow.

Here is some information and tips for storing and serving milk at home to keep it fresh as long as possible:

  • While at the grocery store, pick up milk last so it stays as cool as possible. Refrigerate promptly after you get home.
  • Ideally, milk should be stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below. Storing and serving milk at this temperature extends overall shelf-life and maximizes flavor.
  • Store your milk in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door where it will be exposed to outside air every time someone opens it.
  • Milk is pasteurized to kill bacteria that could potentially cause health risks. Even so, it is not safe to leave pasteurized milk unrefrigerated for an extended time.

Following these simple guidelines can keep your milk as fresh as possible and avoid throwing out spoiled milk. For more information on food safety, visit FoodSafety.gov.

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