How long does raw milk last

Raw milk is an untreated and unprocessed product straight from the cow, meaning it hasn’t gone through any heat treatment or pasteurization. Because of this, many people wonder how long raw milk can be safely consumed.

Unlike pasteurized milk, raw milk carries a higher risk of contamination and can spoil more quickly if not properly stored. When raw milk is exposed to air or kept at warm temperatures, harmful bacteria can multiply and make the milk unsafe to consume. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, and E. coli infection.

The shelf life of raw milk largely depends on how it is stored. It is recommended to keep raw milk refrigerated at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to slow down bacterial growth. At this temperature, raw milk can last for about 7-10 days, provided it has been properly handled from farm to table. However, it is important to note that raw milk can still spoil earlier if it is exposed to contaminants or not handled properly.

It is advisable to check the smell, taste, and appearance of raw milk before consuming it. If the milk develops an off smell, sour taste, or unusual texture like curdling, it is most likely spoiled and should not be consumed. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and throw the milk away to prevent any potential foodborne illnesses.

How Long Does Raw Milk Last?

Raw milk, also known as unpasteurized milk, is milk that has not undergone the process of pasteurization. This means that it has not been heated to a specific temperature to kill bacteria and other pathogens.

When stored properly, raw milk can last for a certain period of time before it spoils. The freshness of raw milk depends on various factors such as temperature, storage method, and inherent bacterial load. Here’s a guide to help you understand how long raw milk typically lasts:


The best way to store raw milk is in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C). When stored at this temperature, raw milk can last for about 7-10 days. It’s important to keep the raw milk container tightly sealed to prevent contamination and the absorption of odors from other foods.


If you have excess raw milk and want to extend its shelf life, freezing is an option. When properly frozen at 0°F (-18°C), raw milk can last for up to 3 months. Freezing prevents the growth of bacteria and helps maintain the quality of the milk. However, it’s worth noting that frozen raw milk can undergo some changes in texture after thawing, so it may not be suitable for certain uses like drinking or use in recipes.

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Caution: Raw milk carries a higher risk of foodborne illnesses compared to pasteurized milk. It may contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli, and Listeria, which can cause severe illness. It is advisable to consume raw milk responsibly and know the source to minimize the risk of contamination.

In conclusion, when stored properly, raw milk can last for about 7-10 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer. However, it’s important to keep in mind the potential risks associated with consuming raw milk and take necessary precautions.

The Shelf Life of Raw Milk

Raw milk is a perishable food product that can be consumed directly from the source, without undergoing any form of pasteurization or heating. While raw milk has several health benefits and is considered by some to be more nutritious than pasteurized milk, it also has a limited shelf life. Understanding the shelf life of raw milk is important to ensure that you consume it while it is still fresh and safe to drink.

Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Raw Milk

Several factors can influence how long raw milk can last before it spoils. These factors include temperature, microbial activity, physical contamination, storage conditions, and initial bacterial load. The quality and shelf life of raw milk can vary depending on these factors.

Temperature: Raw milk should be stored at a temperature below 45°F (7°C) to slow down the growth of bacteria and maintain its freshness for a longer period.

Microbial Activity: Microorganisms naturally present in raw milk can multiply and lead to spoilage over time. The level of microbial activity can be influenced by factors such as milk quality, storage conditions, and sanitation practices during milking.

Physical Contamination: Raw milk can easily be contaminated by foreign particles, dirt, and bacteria during the milking or storage process. Proper hygiene practices and clean handling of raw milk can help extend its shelf life.

Storage Conditions: The way you store raw milk plays a crucial role in determining its shelf life. It is recommended to store raw milk in a clean, sealed container and place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Avoid storing it near strong-smelling foods as it can absorb any odors.

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Initial Bacterial Load: The initial bacterial load in raw milk can affect its shelf life. Milk obtained from healthy cows through clean milking practices will have a lower bacterial load and, therefore, a longer shelf life.

Shelf Life of Raw Milk

In general, raw milk can last anywhere from 7 to 14 days when stored at the optimal temperature of less than 45°F (7°C). However, it’s important to note that the freshness and quality of raw milk can start to deteriorate after a few days. It is recommended to consume raw milk within a week to ensure its safety and taste.

If you’re unsure about the freshness of raw milk, it’s best to rely on its smell and taste. If the milk develops a sour smell or tastes off, it’s an indication that it has gone bad and should not be consumed.

Always make sure to inspect the raw milk before consuming it, as consuming spoiled milk can lead to foodborne illnesses. If you’re concerned about the shelf life of raw milk, it may be best to consider pasteurized milk as an alternative, as it has a longer shelf life and reduced risk of bacterial contamination.

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Raw Milk

Raw milk, right after it has been milked and before any processing occurs, has a limited shelf life. Several factors can affect the lifespan and quality of raw milk.

Sanitation Practices

One of the most critical factors influencing the longevity of raw milk is the sanitation practices implemented during milking and handling. If milking equipment and containers are not properly cleaned and sanitized, harmful bacteria can contaminate the milk, leading to spoilage and a shortened shelf life.

Raw milk should be refrigerated immediately after milking to slow down the growth of bacteria. Adequate and consistent temperature control is crucial in preventing bacterial growth and delaying spoilage.

Cold storage below 40°F (4°C) is essential to maintain raw milk quality and prolong its lifespan. Temperatures above this range can promote bacterial growth and cause faster spoilage.


The type of packaging used to store raw milk can also impact its shelf life. Air-tight and hygienic containers, such as glass bottles, can help protect against contamination and prolong the lifespan. Transparent containers are beneficial as they allow consumers to inspect the milk and detect any signs of spoilage.

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Additionally, containers that block out light are preferable, as light exposure can initiate photo-oxidation reactions that can negatively affect the quality and taste of the milk.

Note: The handling of raw milk also plays a significant role in its lifespan. Proper handling includes avoiding excessive agitation or shaking, protecting it from direct sunlight, and preventing cross-contamination with other foods or substances.

Quality of Milk Source

Lastly, the quality of the milk source is a crucial factor in determining the lifespan of raw milk. Healthy animals, clean farm conditions, and a well-managed milking process are essential for producing high-quality, longer-lasting raw milk.

Understanding and adhering to these factors can help ensure that raw milk stays fresh and safe for consumption.

Storing Raw Milk Properly

It is important to store raw milk properly in order to extend its freshness and prevent contamination. Here are some tips for storing raw milk:

  1. Keep raw milk refrigerated at all times. It should be stored at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to slow down the growth of bacteria.
  2. Store raw milk in glass containers or stainless steel containers that can be tightly sealed. Plastic containers may leach chemicals into the milk and affect its quality.
  3. Do not store raw milk in the refrigerator door as the temperature may fluctuate more frequently. Instead, place it on the main shelf where the temperature remains more consistent.
  4. Label the containers with the date of milk collection to keep track of its freshness. Raw milk can last for around 7-10 days when stored properly.
  5. If you anticipate that you won’t consume the raw milk within the recommended timeframe, consider freezing it. However, it’s worth noting that freezing may affect the quality of the milk, causing changes in texture and taste.
  6. Handle raw milk with clean hands and use sanitized containers for storage to avoid introducing any contaminants.
  7. Keep raw milk away from other foods in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.

By following these guidelines, you can store raw milk properly and enjoy its freshness for a longer period.

Harrison Clayton

Harrison Clayton

Meet Harrison Clayton, a distinguished author and home remodeling enthusiast whose expertise in the realm of renovation is second to none. With a passion for transforming houses into inviting homes, Harrison's writing at brings a breath of fresh inspiration to the world of home improvement. Whether you're looking to revamp a small corner of your abode or embark on a complete home transformation, Harrison's articles provide the essential expertise and creative flair to turn your visions into reality. So, dive into the captivating world of home remodeling with Harrison Clayton and unlock the full potential of your living space with every word he writes.

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