When Is the Actual Expiration Date On Your Milk?

Getty Images/Stephen Chernin
Getty Images/Stephen Chernin

Confusion stemming from the date printed on the packages of food and when to actually dispose of it is a serious problem in the United States: Reportedly, around 90 percent of Americans throw out food prematurely. Despite this, and the efforts of consumer groups and processors in the 1970s and '80s, the federal government doesn't regulate dates on any food, or drink, outside of infant formula. Twenty states do have some rules with dating for milk products, but they're all slightly different.

So what chance do you have when you're staring at your week-old milk in the fridge? A really good one, in terms of survival: If you drink clearly sour and expired milk, you might get sick, but it's unlikely that you'll die. That date on the carton of milk, however, could mean very different things depending on what state you’re in. Some states require a sell by date, which indicates the last day a store can legally sell the milk; it's calculated to give the home consumer a reasonable amount of time to enjoy. Other states have a use by date that’s for consumers—it indicates the date that the milk is believed to be at peak flavor. So while milk cartons in Montana are labelled with a sell by date 12 days after pasteurization, nearby Washington requires a use by date that’s 21 days after pasteurization. Confused?

While the pasteurization of milk kills most of the harmful bacteria, precautions always need to be made by the consumer to keep the milk from going bad. It's mostly obvious stuff: Don't leave the milk out on the counter for a long time; don't expose it to light that can make it can lose its vitamins; and close the carton when you're done to prevent the absorption of flavors from other foods in your refrigerator. Another way to keep milk as fresh as possible is to always keep it on a shelf—never in the inside of the door of your fridge, where the temperature fluctuates the most. Depending on who you ask, the fridge temperature should be 34-38 °F or 38-40 °F. Warmer temperatures give bacteria more of a chance to develop. You could theoretically freeze your milk for up to three months, but it'll turn lumpy and yellow and yucky looking (though it's still safe to drink).

The accepted rule of thumb is that if you're properly refrigerating it, your carton of whole milk's expiration date is five days after the "sell-by" date. If it's "non-fat," "skim," or "reduced fat," you’ll have a little less time, and no one is quite sure why (although it seems that whole milk tends to go sour while skim milk tends to go bitter). "Ultra pasteurized" milk has a longer shelf life than other types of milk. If you happen to be particularly young, old, or, as Drew Harris, the chair of the New Jersey Public Health Institute put it, "immunocompromised," you should maybe cut a day or two from those estimations and proceed with more caution.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Make a Holiday Feast Fit for the Crawleys With the New Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook

Dine as lavishly as the Earl of Grantham this holiday season with the Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook.
Dine as lavishly as the Earl of Grantham this holiday season with the Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook.
Focus Features

For Downton Abbey fans, the holidays probably haven't felt quite the same ever since the show's final Christmas episode—and series finale—aired back in 2015. But if you miss the drama, the opulence, and the familiarity of your favorite upper-crust period drama, you can try your best to recreate it with The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook, which is available for pre-order on Amazon for $31.

The publisher, Weldon Owens, has already released similar books to bring viewers closer to the Crawley clan, such as The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook ($23), The Official Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook ($16), and The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book ($17). And this new Christmas edition preps you for an upscale holiday dinner, complete with recipes taken from actual vintage cookbooks. You can start your feast with a bowl of pheasant soup before digging into Yorkshire Christmas pie and finishing it all off with the traditional figgy pudding.

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Along with the directions, you'll get bits of history about each dish and how it relates to the world of Downton Abbey. You’ll learn more about the different holiday traditions and get to relive memorable moments from the series along with quotes from the characters.

Weldon Owens/Amazon

The new Christmas cookbook is now available for pre-order on Amazon and will arrive on October 27.

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