We’ve all taken a swig out of a milk carton that’s a pair days previous its expiration date without consequences. Which provides us wonder: do these dates really typical anything?

"Expiration days are something world find confusing and also with good reason," claims Don Schaffner, a professor the food scientific research at Rutgers University. "There room expiration dates, best-by dates, best-before days — and there’s no really a many standardization around what those every mean."

In fact, Schaffner states expiration dates are mostly based upon product quality, not air pollution risk, and also often they’re collection by regulation that’s not constantly based on the best scientific evidence. Because that example, milk developed in Schaffner’s state of brand-new Jersey has one expiration day if it’s marketed within the state, but that exact same milk is stamped v a different expiration date if it’s sold just throughout the state heat in brand-new York.

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Still, there room some drink that food scientists simply don"t take opportunities with. Here’s what castle say could turn potentially dangerous.

Anything Raw


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E. Coli is the pathogen most commonly associated with unpasteurized drinks, yet it’s not the just one. "Unpasteurized milk deserve to support listeria growth, even in the refrigerator," states Kathleen Glass, associate director that the Food research study Institute in ~ the university of Wisconsin-Madison.

Pasteurization kills pathogens by heating up milk (and various other beverages) come a temperature higher than that which bacteria have the right to withstand. This was traditionally done in a huge vat, wherein milk was heated to 145 degrees for 30 minutes, follow to the international Dairy foods items Association.

These days, the more common an approach is high-temperature, short-time pasteurization, i beg your pardon cranks up the heat to 161 levels for 15 seconds, complied with by quick cooling — which kills potential pathogens and also makes beverages lot safer to drink.

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Interestingly, unpasteurized apple cider (which ferments end time) might actually become safer past its expiration date. "If your apple cider to be contaminated v E. Coli," describes Schaffner, "the bacteria would certainly actually die faster at room temperature due to the fact that the cider would revolve to alcohol and also kill it."

100% vegetable Juice


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Fruit juices often tend to be acidic — think apple, grape, orange, and also tomato — and acid is a great protection versus foodborne pathogens, Glass says. Acid provides it harder for bacteria to survive. Fresh vegetables juices the aren’t blended with fruit juices, top top the various other hand, are an ext likely to become contaminated past their expirations, making castle unsafe to drink.

Cold Pasteurized Drinks


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Cold pasteurization death bacteria in food without using heat. There room several approaches of cold pasteurization, however high-pressure handling (HPP) is the one most commonly connected with fresh juices.

It works by applying intense press to already bottled beverages to death off potential pathogens and extend shelf life, however it’s not a replacement for thermal pasteurization.

"Cold pasteurization is not fairly as effective," states Glass, "and the shelf life of cold pasteurized juices is still much shorter than those pasteurized through heat, specifically if they don’t save on computer fruit."

Beverages save on computer Improperly


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It’s common sense that anything friend buy in the refrigerated section of the grocery store is going to go bad faster than the shelf-stable stuff. Keeping things at the right temperature is key. As a food safety educator, Glass can’t aid looking in ~ refrigeration thermometers in ~ the grocery store.

"I have actually been known to find the manager and also ask concerns if ns think miscellaneous is off," she says, note that also your frozen refrigerator at home can reason trouble. "I always make sure my refrigerator is between 38 and 40 degrees. Anything above that provides it much easier for bacteria come grow."


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