Keep Your Dairy and Egg Products Safe

Reviewed by 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, what type of milk container to buy 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 within one week of purchase, buttermilk within one to two weeks. Non-dairy milk substitutes, such as soy, almond or coconut milk, should be consumed in seven to ten days.
  • When you select 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.
  • 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. If you make homemade ice cream and it calls for eggs, be sure to use pasteurized eggs.

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 for three to four weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Pregnant women, young children, older adults and people 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:
    • Cream cheese, cottage cheese and ricotta should be consumed within one week of opening.

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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