Have you ever found an old carton of oat milk in the back of your fridge and wondered if it’s still safe to drink?
While the expiration date on the packaging may have passed, you might be tempted to take a sip anyway. But can expired oat milk make you sick?
The answer is not a simple yes or no. In this article, we’ll explore the potential risks of consuming expired oat milk and what you need to know to keep yourself safe.
So, grab a glass of fresh oat milk (or your preferred beverage) and let’s dive in!
Can Expired Oat Milk Make You Sick?
The short answer is yes, drinking expired oat milk can make you sick. While oat milk doesn’t contain preservatives that could potentially harm you, it can still spoil and harbor bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
When oat milk is past its expiration date, it may have signs of spoilage such as a sour smell or taste. If left out at room temperature for more than two hours, it can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or even a fever.
Furthermore, opened oat milk is exposed to oxidation that can cause rancidity. This means that the liquid is exposed to air, which brings bacteria, spores, and microbial growth. When oat milk is no longer fresh, then it will become less nutritious as the vitamins and minerals are degraded over time.
Spoiled oat milk won’t necessarily make you sick, but it absolutely can. Foods that have gone bad due to spoilage bacteria will taste unpleasant but are unlikely to make you sick. However, spoiled foods that have developed pathogenic bacteria, the kind that multiply like nobody’s business when food is left at room temperature for more than two hours, will give you food poisoning.
Since there’s no way to determine what kind of bacteria have caused your oat milk to go bad, it’s best just to steer clear of the spoiled stuff entirely. If you aren’t certain your oat milk is still fresh, it’s best to discard it and not take any chances.
Understanding Expiration Dates On Oat Milk
Expiration dates on oat milk can be confusing, especially since there isn’t a standard shelf life for all brands and types of oat milk. The shelf life of oat milk depends on where you purchase it, the type of packaging, and whether it’s been opened or not.
If you’re purchasing oat milk in a carton, check the expiration date printed on the packaging. In some countries, like the US, oat milk is considered fresh when it is sold within two days after opening. But in other countries, such as Europe, you can keep oat milk for up to four weeks. If there isn’t an expiration date printed on the carton, ask the store employee for advice.
Once you open the carton of oat milk, the clock starts ticking. Oat milk needs to be kept between 40 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. If it gets too hot, the bacteria in the milk will die off and the milk will spoil.
If you plan to refrigerate your oat milk, make sure you do it right away. If you want to freeze your oat milk, you can do so without worrying about spoiling it. Just place a portion of the oat milk in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer. You can thaw it later by placing it in a microwave or running warm water over it. There is also a special container designed specifically to freeze oat milk.
It’s important to note that even if your oat milk is within its expiration date and has been properly stored, it’s still possible for it to spoil. Always use your senses to determine if your oat milk is still fresh. If it smells sour or tastes off, discard it immediately.
The Risks Of Consuming Expired Oat Milk
Consuming expired oat milk poses several risks to your health. The most immediate risk is the potential for food poisoning. When oat milk is past its expiration date, it may have been left out at room temperature for too long, leading to the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
Additionally, when oat milk is no longer fresh, it becomes less nutritious as the vitamins and minerals in the milk degrade over time. This means that consuming expired oat milk may not provide you with the same nutritional benefits as fresh oat milk.
Furthermore, opened oat milk is exposed to oxidation that can cause rancidity. This means that the liquid is exposed to air, which brings bacteria, spores, and microbial growth. Drinking expired oat milk that has gone bad can lead to intestinal inflammation, vomiting or diarrhea.
It’s important to note that while unopened shelf-stable oat milk can be used for months after its expiration date if stored correctly and the carton is not damaged or swollen, opened oat milk has a much shorter shelf life. Once opened, oat milk should be consumed within a few days to avoid the risk of spoilage and food poisoning.
Signs Your Oat Milk Has Gone Bad
If you’re unsure whether your oat milk has gone bad or not, there are a few signs you can look out for. The first and most obvious sign is the expiration date. If the date has passed, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of the oat milk.
Another sign of spoilage is a sour or off smell. If your oat milk smells unpleasant or has a strange odor, it’s likely that it has gone bad. Similarly, if the texture of the milk is thicker or clumpy, it’s a sign that the milk has spoiled.
If you notice any mold growing in the carton or on the surface of the oat milk, it’s a clear indication that it has gone bad and should be thrown away immediately.
It’s also important to note that if your oat milk has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, it could potentially have harmful bacteria growing in it. In this case, it’s best to discard the milk and not take any chances.
Proper Storage And Handling Of Oat Milk
Proper storage and handling of oat milk is crucial to prevent spoilage and the growth of harmful bacteria. Here are some tips to keep your oat milk fresh and safe to consume:
1. Check the expiration date: Always check the expiration date on the carton before purchasing or consuming oat milk. Once opened, the shelf life of oat milk depends on where you live. In some countries, like the US, oat milk is considered fresh when it is sold within two days after opening. But in other countries, such as Europe, you can keep oat milk for up to four weeks.
2. Store in a cool place: Oat milk should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The ideal temperature range for storing oat milk is between 40 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Shake before using: Always shake the carton of oat milk before using it to ensure that it is properly mixed.
4. Do not mix with other liquids: Oat milk contains proteins that act as natural stabilizers. Mixing it with other liquids can prevent it from solidifying properly.
5. Do not leave at room temperature for more than two hours: Once opened, oat milk should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. This can create a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
6. Freeze if needed: If you have excess oat milk that you cannot consume within the recommended timeframe, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe container or bag. Thaw it later by placing it in a microwave or running warm water over it.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your oat milk stays fresh and safe to consume for as long as possible. Remember, if you are unsure whether your oat milk is still fresh, it’s best to discard it and not take any chances with your health.
Alternatives To Expired Oat Milk
If you find yourself with expired oat milk or are unsure if it’s still fresh, there are alternatives you can use instead. Here are a few options:
1. Fresh oat milk: If you have access to fresh oat milk, this is the best alternative to expired oat milk. Fresh oat milk has not been exposed to air or bacteria and will provide all the nutrients and benefits of oat milk without any risk of food poisoning.
2. Other non-dairy milk alternatives: If you don’t have access to fresh oat milk, there are many other non-dairy milk alternatives available such as almond, soy, coconut, or rice milk. These options are also nutrient-rich and can be used in place of oat milk in recipes or as a beverage.
3. Water: If you’re using oat milk as a liquid in a recipe, you can substitute it with water. While it won’t provide the same creamy texture as oat milk, it will still work as a liquid ingredient.
4. Dairy milk: If you’re not lactose intolerant or vegan, dairy milk is another option to consider. However, keep in mind that dairy milk may not be suitable for those with dietary restrictions or preferences.