Yogurt is a common dairy product that is created through a process of fermentation – because it’s already been ‘soured’ to a degree, does this mean that yogurt can last for months? Does yogurt go bad, and how can you tell?
General guidelines suggest that yogurt can last about two weeks beyond the printed date unopened and stored in the fridge, or around two months in the freezer. Once opened, they should stay good for around one week.
Yogurt does last longer than many other dairy products, but yes, it does go bad. Even though live bacterial cultures act as a preservative which fend off mold for a time, yogurt is a milk product and milk is fragile. Time and warmth will cause milk products to go bad.
Shelf Life Of Yogurt
Commercially produced yogurt is sold with an expiration, sell by, or best by date. This date can be stretched for up to two weeks without causing harm or illness. This advice only pertains to plain or fruit-based yogurts, not to yogurt-based desserts, custards, or any dish containing eggs.
Once opened, all kinds of yogurt are best eaten within one week of the printed date if refrigerated, or within one month if frozen.
All forms of yogurt will last indefinitely in the freezer, but for best quality should be consumed within one or two months
- Regular Yogurt – these products can last around two or three weeks past the printed date when stored correctly before opening.
- Yogurt With Fruit – The presence of fruit pieces in yogurt can destroy the preserving qualities of the lactic acid bacteria, so fruit yogurt doesn’t last quite as long. Stored correctly, it can last seven to ten days.
- Greek Yogurt/Reduced Fat Yogurt – can last for one or two weeks beyond the printed date.
- Drinking Yogurt – lasts for seven to ten days past the printed date.
- Frozen Yogurt – is best eaten within two or three months, but will stay good indefinitely in the freezer.
- Homemade Yogurt – can last up to two weeks. If there are fruit bits inside, only one week. If you enjoy fruit or sweeteners with yogurt, they should be added with each serving. Don’t add sugar or fruit to large batches of plain homemade yogurt – the bacteria that turn milk into yogurt will feed on the sugar and ruin it.
How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out?
Yogurt can go bad very rapidly if left to sit out at room temperature or above. For every hour that it sits out, the bacterial growth can double or triple.
We recommend disposing of any yogurt that has sat out for more than two hours.
How To Tell If Yogurt Is Bad
You can limit the risk of spoiled yogurt by storing it on the shelves of your refrigerator and not in the door, it will stay colder this way and last for longer.
Eating yogurt that has gone bad is not only an unpleasant experience, it can also make you sick.
Luckily, there are many ways to determine if your yogurt has gone rancid.
- Check for liquid – some separation of liquids from solids is normal over time. If there is a small amount of surface liquid, the yogurt is still fine – just stir it together and eat as normal. However, if the surface is entirely covered with liquid, throw the yogurt out.
- Look at the texture – yogurt should be smooth and creamy. If you can see lumps, clumps or curdling, this is a clear sign that the yogurt is bad and should not be eaten.
- Check for mold – if you see any mold on the inside of the lid or throughout the yogurt, throw the entire tub out – it may have spread throughout the entire product.
- Smell – rancid yogurt will have a very unpleasant, sour aroma. If you can detect any abnormal smells, dispose of the entire tub.
- Taste – taste testing a small amount of bad yogurt shouldn’t make you sick. If the yogurt tastes bitter, sour, or even generally ‘off,’ better to be safe than sorry and throw it out.
What Happens When You Eat Old Yogurt?
As with many dairy products, when yogurt goes bad it can grow dangerous bacteria and molds which can make you sick.
Eating old yogurt puts you at risk of food poisoning – symptoms can include diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and fever. Symptoms may start within a few hours of consumption or up to 24 hours, and often last between 12 and 48 hours.