Keep Your Dairy and Egg Products Safe

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
Dairy and eggs - Keep Your Dairy and Egg Products Safe

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Have you ever wondered how long dairy and egg products can be safely stored or how to handle raw eggs? The next time you go grocery shopping or clean out your refrigerator, use the tips below.

Milk

  • Buy milk and other dairy products toward the end of your shopping trip so they spend less time out at room temperature.
  • Store milk and other dairy products in the coldest part of the refrigerator, never store milk in the refrigerator door where it is susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
  • Milk is best consumed by the package use-by date, and buttermilk within one to two weeks from the date of purchase. Plant-based milks, which can also be found in the dairy aisle, such as soy, almond or coconut milk, should be consumed by the package use-by date and seven to ten days after opening.
  • When you select or store milk, make sure the lid is tightly sealed to prevent off odors or flavors from developing.
  • Choose pasteurized, rather than raw, milk and dairy products. Even organic raw milk can contain harmful bacteria that may cause serious illness, hospitalization or even death.

Cheese

  • Wrap hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Gouda, Edam and Swiss, in an inner layer of wax or parchment paper and an outer layer of plastic wrap to help maintain freshness. They can last for three to four weeks in the refrigerator after opening.
  • Remove mold from hard cheeses by cutting a one-inch square around it. The rest is safe to eat if only a small area was affected, but it should not be returned to the same wrapping; use a fresh container or a new piece of plastic wrap when storing any amount of cheese that remains.
  • Processed cheese slices can keep in the refrigerator for three to four weeks from the date of purchase.
  • People who are pregnant, young children, older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems should not eat unpasteurized cheeses and should check the labels of soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and blue-veined cheeses, to make sure they are made with pasteurized milk before consuming.
  • Soft cheese often has a shorter shelf life than hard cheese:
    • Cottage cheese and ricotta should be consumed within one week of opening and cream cheese within two weeks.

Eggs

  • Never eat raw eggs (this includes raw cookie dough and batters, 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 egg cups in the door.
  • Raw eggs in the shell should be consumed within three to five weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Hard-boiled eggs last about a week in the refrigerator.
  • If a recipe calls for raw eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing, use a liquid pasteurized egg substitute instead of raw eggs.
  • Cook eggs until yolks are firm. If you prefer eggs soft-cooked or sunny-side up, choose pasteurized eggs.
  • Cook egg dishes such as quiche or casseroles to 160°F.

Yogurt

  • Check the "best-by" date on the carton.
  • Use yogurt within one to two weeks after buying it.

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