Can I Eat Expired Yogurt?

Consuming expired yogurt can be risky for your health, even though you might not want to throw food away. Be careful not to confuse the best by date with the actual condition of the product.
Can I Eat Expired Yogurt?

Last update: 05 November, 2018

When choosing food in the supermarket, it’s very important to pay attention to the expiry dates. In practice, those dates aren’t really all that precise. On top of that, there are times when the product looks to be spoiled even before its date of expiration. Yogurt is a prime example of this. This dairy product can look or smell rotten even before the date on the label officially declares the yogurt has expired.

The acidic pH level of yogurt stops the spread of pathogens that could transmit diseases. This sets it apart from other dairy products that are also made with pasteurized milk. That being the case, eating an expired yogurt doesn’t put you at a big risk of getting food poisoning. Nevertheless, there are simple visual factors that can tell you if the product is dangerous to eat.

Controlling expiration dates

Companies tend to print “best by” dates on packaging labels. Nutritional health specialists state that the safety margins for these are variable. In reality, this date margin tends to favor the food companies over the consumer.

Woman enjoying a possibly expired yogurt

The right to obtain foods that are safe to eat also applies to yogurts. The probiotic effects of this dairy product change as the days go by. Added to this, its nutritional benefits are reduced, as the best by date falls further behind.

What are the properties of yogurt and how is it made?

Yogurt is made through the bacterial fermentation of milk. Lactobacillus and Streptococcus thermophilus are two bacteria cultures that manufacturers use and both of these components create lactic acid through the proteins in milk.

During the boiling phase of making the yogurt, the manufacturer heats the milk to about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, they can avoid curdling and, at the same time, conserve the product’s proteins. When the product reaches this temperature, the manufacturer adds the bacteria cultures. They then store it at 113 degrees Fahrenheit for six to seven hours. This makes the yogurt ferment.

This process turns the yogurt into a food with an important quantity of beneficial fatty acids and proteins. Because it’s a dairy product, it also contains some essential minerals, such as calcium.

How to know if a yogurt has expired

Beyond the question about the level of risk associated with eating yogurts past their expiry dates, there are situations when you know for sure that the yogurt isn’t good to eat. The presence of some of the tell tale indicators that a yogurt has spoiled should be enough motivation for you to throw it away.

For example, a yogurt can be spoiled if someone has exposed it to high temperatures, even if the expiry date hasn’t yet passed.

After the expiry date has passed, yogurts begin to lose some of their beneficial properties. Slight changes in a yogurt’s smell or its texture are signals that the yogurt is beginning to turn bad.

Expired yogurt can be liquidy

Factors to indicate that the yogurt is in a bad state

There are three factors that signal that you shouldn’t eat that yogurt. First of all, you’ll frequently see problems on the packaging of yogurts and other dairy products. This is independent of any best by or expiration date.

You should never eat dairy products from packaging that contain tears, holes, is exposed, or packaging that is discolored. This is a sure sign of possible contamination of the product.

Secondly, you shouldn’t eat the yogurt if you notice an excessive amount of liquid when you open its packaging. If it has a lumpy or cracked texture, this is also a sign that it may have spoiled.

The third factor to keep in mind is that if the yogurt is in bad shape, it’ll have an unusually acidic taste. In any of these three cases, it’s very risky to eat an expired yogurt. Although many people ignore the expiration dates on the packaging, these dates are placed there for the protection of the consumers.

What should I do if I eat an expired yogurt?

If you notice that you’ve eaten an expired yogurt, check the date. If only a short time has passed since its expiry date, then it’s not likely to pose a major risk.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea, vomiting, and strong abdominal cramps. Any of these symptoms could worsen if you don’t take the necessary measures to detoxify your body. If you think you have food poisoning, consult with a doctor as soon as possible.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.