Keep Your Dairy and Egg Products Safe

Reviewed by Eleese Cunningham, RDN
dairy and eggs


How Safe Are Your Dairy and Egg Products?

Many Americans often question how long dairy and egg products can be safely stored, what type of milk container to buy, or how to handle raw eggs. Below are tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you the next time you go grocery shopping or clean out your refrigerator.


  • Buy milk and other dairy products toward the end of your shopping trip.
  • Store milk and other dairy products in the refrigerator below 40°F, but never store milk in the refrigerator door where it is susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
  • Discard all kinds of milk (whole, 2 percent, skim, etc.) after the container has been opened one week of opening, no matter what the "sell-by" date is.
  • Ice cream has a shelf life of two to four months because it is stored in the freezer where bacterial growth is significantly slowed due to the colder temperatures — make homemade ice cream with pasteurized eggs.
  • Choose milk in cardboard cartons or non-translucent jugs
    • Translucent containers allow light in that can cause milk to spoil more easily and more quickly
    • Translucent containers allow light in that can cause milk to spoil more easily and more quickly.


  • Hard cheese, like cheddar, gouda, Edam, and Swiss, can last for 3 to 4 weeks tightly wrapped in the refrigerator after opening. It's okay to freeze hard cheese, but the texture and taste may suffer.
  • Remove mold from cheese by cutting a one-inch square around it; the rest is safe to eat.
  • Processed cheese spread can keep for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator after being opened.
  • Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should not eat unpasteurized cheeses or soft cheeses like Camembert, Brie, blue-veined, etc.
  • The softer the cheese, the shorter the shelf life:
    • Cream cheese can last for 2 weeks
    • Cottage cheese can last for 10 to 30 days
    • Ricotta cheese can last for 5 days


  • NEVER eat raw eggs--and this goes for raw cookie dough too.
  • When buying eggs, choose a carton that is cold and make sure the eggs are clean and aren't broken or cracked.
  • Store eggs in the original packaging in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the pre-made egg cups in the door.
  • Raw eggs should not be kept for more than three weeks in the refrigerator; Hard-boiled eggs can last a week in the refrigerator (in or out of the shell).
  • If a recipe calls for raw eggs, like Caesar salad dressing, use a liquid pasteurized egg substitute instead of raw eggs.
  • Cook eggs until yolk are firm (yolks should not be runny).
  • Cook egg dishes, like quiche or casseroles, to 160°F.


  • Check the "sell-by" date on the carton.
  • Use yogurt within 7-10 days after buying it.

Find An Expert

Need serious help making a plan? The nutrition experts in our professional membership are ready to help you create the change to improve your life.

Search Now