How long after the expiration date is yogurt safe to eat.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My girlfriend asked me this question today when I served her yogurt that was past the expiration date. Here's the answer I found from the Food Goddess.

How long after the sell-by date stamped on the bottom of yogurt containers is the yogurt still OK to eat? I figure since yogurt already contains active ingredients that it is good for at least a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.'

KYLE R. TODTSCHINDER, Duluth

For the goddess' non-yogurt-eating fan base, let her give a basic introduction. Yogurt is milk that has been inoculated with friendly bacteria with appetizing names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These living cultures convert the milk's sugar into lactic acid, which gives yogurt its tangy taste.

The goddess checked the Web sites of two leading yogurt makers, Dannon and Stonyfield Farm (a major producer of organic yogurt), and found an interesting fact that makes a general recommendation more difficult. While the date on the Dannon yogurt refers to the consumption date, Stonyfield's is the sell-by date.

But those specifics don't seem to matter much in this instance. While the National Dairy Council recommends a one-week refrigerated shelf life for yogurt, both Dannon and Stonyfield Farm imply a much longer life. Both clearly state the stamped date is not the date that the yogurt will "expire" or "go bad." It's more of an optimum eating period.

As long as yogurt is properly refrigerated and it looks, smells and tastes good and there are no visible signs of mold or discoloration, the yogurt remains safe to eat.

So if a container of yogurt gets hidden for a week or two behind that giant jar of pickled eggs in your refrigerator, you have no cause for alarm. Just remember your food is not intended to become a science experiment.

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