View Poll Results: At what point would you worry about milk giving you a tummy ache?
smells a little off 19 28.79%
tastes a little sour 13 19.70%
tastes noticably sour 16 24.24%
dude this stuff is curdling in the bowl 18 27.27%
Voters: 66. You may not vote on this poll

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#1
Old 12-04-2014, 06:09 PM
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Will slightly sour milk hurt a normal healthy person?

One of life's annoyances is to discover milk you have in the Fridge smells a little off. Especially when it's a day or two before or after the expiration date.

Happened to me this morning. One day before the expiration date. I had just used it two days ago and it was fine. This time I just said F it and used it on my cereal anyhow. I was hungry. Didn't even taste sour yet. I'm sure it will by tomorrow. I plan on a McDonalds breakfast run in the morning and I'll pick up fresh milk later tomorrow.

Any reason slightly sour milk would hurt a person? Assuming of course it's grocery store, pasteurized milk. Not raw milk from a dairy.

At what point would you worry about a tummy ache?
1. smells off
2. tastes a little sour
3. tastes noticably sour
4. dude this stuff is curdling in the bowl

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-04-2014 at 06:13 PM.
#2
Old 12-04-2014, 06:13 PM
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A few days off? Unlikely -- isn't that basically buttermilk? I wouldn't drink it straight, but you could probably cook with it.
#3
Old 12-04-2014, 06:21 PM
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Oops. Voted wrong. Just smelling wrong is fine--if it doesn't taste bad, it's probably just a little bit of spoiled crud near the mouth. Anything further I would avoid.

And, no, it's not buttermilk with pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk must have bacteria added to it to get proper buttermilk. It may also have to do with the homogenization--I don't remember.
#4
Old 12-04-2014, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
And, no, it's not buttermilk with pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk must have bacteria added to it to get proper buttermilk. It may also have to do with the homogenization--I don't remember.
Yep. That's what we call "spoiled milk." Pasteurized milk is not "soured milk" when it goes off. It is spoiled (unless you've innoculated it with buttermilk with live cultures or some other source of lactic acid bacteria and such.)
#5
Old 12-04-2014, 06:40 PM
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Sour milk makes the best pancakes and baked goods, so I'm going to say it's going to have to be pretty far gone before it will actually cause sickness in humans.
#6
Old 12-04-2014, 07:09 PM
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I answered with "tastes a little sour" but I actually do toss milk as soon as it starts smelling sour. I'd rather be safe than sorry and milk is too cheap to chances with. (Plus, that sour smell really turns my stomach.)

My answer would also depend on the application of the milk. Used raw over cereal, I'd be more worried than if it's cooked into something like pancakes.
#7
Old 12-04-2014, 07:21 PM
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I'd toss it if it smelled bad. If it tasted just a little sour, I'd still use it in a bowl of cereal. If it was lumpy, no way. Milk is supposed to stay good a week after its sell-by date, so I don't worry if it's one or two days past it.
#8
Old 12-05-2014, 06:51 AM
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There's a significant difference between properly soured milk—e.g. buttermilk, yogurt, clabber, sour cream, crème fraîche, kefir—and spoiled milk. The former is good. The latter is not. When it goes off after its expiration date in your fridge, there's nothing you can do but throw it away. It tastes like ass and would probably make you sick. Sorry. I guess it depends on the exact type of culture you have going there. They're not all the same. Some are desirable and some completely ruin the milk.
#9
Old 12-05-2014, 07:22 AM
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I voted for the third option, on the basis that I have in fact done this in the past with no ill-effects (though of course I may have just been lucky), and I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that spoiled (pasteurised) milk just smells bad and isn't likely to have harmful bacteria in it. A quick Google search doesn't reveal any science to back this up, though, so not a GQ-quality answer by any means. I'm hoping someone with more knowledge will stop by shortly.
#10
Old 12-05-2014, 09:33 AM
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I'd be interested in an authoritative answer about when "sour" milk is actually unsafe to consume. Especially when we're talking about pasteurized milk, not raw or natural - in which case I'd be worried about a lot of potential pathogens, same as with raw meat.

But after pasteurization, it seems like the souring bacteria would be relatively common household ones and it's more a matter of taste and suitability than health. From fresh to old to sour to, well, clotting up - when is milk actually unsafe to consume without any kind of treatment, including cooking?
#11
Old 12-05-2014, 02:56 PM
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I have often drunk milk that is a bit sour, and even, on occasion, milk that has begun to curdle a bit. The curds will usually sink, so sometimes I don't even know it curdling until I have drunk a bit (and it sometimes does not seem more than slightly sour, even when there are curd down there). It doesn't taste very good, bit I have never never noticed any sort of digestive problems caused by any of this. Sometimes, if the end of a bottle is souring, I will mix small amounts of it into my fresh milk, just to use it up.
#12
Old 12-05-2014, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
I'd toss it if it smelled bad. If it tasted just a little sour, I'd still use it in a bowl of cereal. If it was lumpy, no way. Milk is supposed to stay good a week after its sell-by date, so I don't worry if it's one or two days past it.
That's my answer too. Smell test first. If its a little off than a dab on tongue. If it tastes ok or just faintly sour then it goes on my cereal. A strong sour taste and it goes down the drain.

I very rarely get milk to last more than a couple days past the expiration date. It depends on how it was handled in the store. Milk in display coolers with doors stays cooler and is fresher when bought. I've found that milk bought from open shelving coolers goes bad quicker. I may even have to pour it out a day or two before the expiration date. Open shelf milk is fine for families with kids that use up a carton every few days. It never has time to go bad.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-05-2014 at 03:17 PM.
#13
Old 12-05-2014, 04:09 PM
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I've had milk curdle when I put it in coffee, and the coffee never tastes quite right if I try to drink it.
#14
Old 12-05-2014, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I'd be interested in an authoritative answer about when "sour" milk is actually unsafe to consume. Especially when we're talking about pasteurized milk, not raw or natural - in which case I'd be worried about a lot of potential pathogens, same as with raw meat.

But after pasteurization, it seems like the souring bacteria would be relatively common household ones and it's more a matter of taste and suitability than health. From fresh to old to sour to, well, clotting up - when is milk actually unsafe to consume without any kind of treatment, including cooking?
I don't think there is an authoritative answer, even from a scientist.

Food poisoning is all a matter of how much is in there and of what type. At best, you'll get an answer like "x% of people got sick under the described handling methods." We don't actually know the details of how the OP's milk was handled, though.

Many of the things considered unsafe in modern food handling are mitigating very small risks. After all, if even 1% of people got food poisoning, we'd consider that unacceptable. From a manufacturer's standpoint, that's hundreds of people a day getting sick. On the other hand, if you're an individual weighing the odds of surviving that last bit of sour milk, 99% chance of no problem seems like a pretty safe bet.
#15
Old 12-05-2014, 05:48 PM
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I voted dude this stuff is curdling in the bowl since the question was "At what point would you worry about a tummy ache?"

But I wouldn't drink milk even if it only smells a little off .
#16
Old 12-05-2014, 06:02 PM
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A trick I learned as a poor college student - if the milk has a slightly off aroma, add a little bit of baking soda (~1/4 tsp for a half gallon). It will taste and smell completely normal for a couple more days.
#17
Old 12-05-2014, 06:39 PM
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There is NO relationship between smell and pathogenic microorganisms. Spoilage microorganisms and pathogenic microorganisms are two separate and distinct set of species. You can have milk that smells perfectly fine that cause harm and milk that is inedibly rotten that you could drink with abandon.

With proper pasteurization and avoidance of cross contamination, milk is acceptably safe for it's entire usable lifespan. Throw milk out when it's unpalatable but not because it will make you sick.
#18
Old 12-05-2014, 07:04 PM
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someone i know drank some milk going bad, i recall curling. they reasoned that it was just starting and that's what yogurt does.

a bit later they were begging for death. they survived without treatment.
#19
Old 12-05-2014, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
With proper pasteurization and avoidance of cross contamination, milk is acceptably safe for it's entire usable lifespan. Throw milk out when it's unpalatable but not because it will make you sick.
There's sick, and then there's sick. You are right that it won't make you sick in terms of catching some disease or being poisoned. But sour milk can certainly make you "sick" in that you puke out your guts. (Spoken from experience.)
#20
Old 12-05-2014, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
I voted dude this stuff is curdling in the bowl since the question was "At what point would you worry about a tummy ache?"

But I wouldn't drink milk even if it only smells a little off .
This, not because I'm afraid it will make me sick, but because it tastes nasty. But if it hasn't actually curdled and I want to cook with milk (pancakes, pudding whatever) I will still use it.
#21
Old 12-06-2014, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
There is NO relationship between smell and pathogenic microorganisms. Spoilage microorganisms and pathogenic microorganisms are two separate and distinct set of species. You can have milk that smells perfectly fine that cause harm and milk that is inedibly rotten that you could drink with abandon.

With proper pasteurization and avoidance of cross contamination, milk is acceptably safe for it's entire usable lifespan. Throw milk out when it's unpalatable but not because it will make you sick.
Whose milk actually sours today? I run into milk that has a revolting odor from pseudomonas and its evil little friends.

Agreeing with you. Milk is tested every which way. As long as it's legally pasteurized, there are no surviving pathogens. (I suppose there are some spore-formers, possibly)
#22
Old 12-06-2014, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No umlaut for U View Post
Whose milk actually sours today? I run into milk that has a revolting odor from pseudomonas and its evil little friends.

Agreeing with you. Milk is tested every which way. As long as it's legally pasteurized, there are no surviving pathogens. (I suppose there are some spore-formers, possibly)
Standard pasteurization doesn't kill all bacteria. The standard HTST pasteurization achieves a log 5 reduction in bacteria (99.999% kill rate). For true shelf stable milk, you need to perform UHT pasteurization.
#23
Old 12-06-2014, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No umlaut for U View Post
Whose milk actually sours today?...
Maybe milk in Ireland? Last time I had sour milk there, it was actually sour, like vinegar. Not just sorta spoiled, like what happens to my milk.
#24
Old 12-06-2014, 08:40 PM
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Sourness in milk happens when Lacto-Bacillus convert the Lactose to acid and Carbon-Dioxide.

When you drink milk, you hope that, in the presence of Lactase (a digestive enzyme) the Lactose will spontaneously convert into galactose and glucose.

If the milk already contains a large Lacto-Bacillus population, and has not yet gone completely sour, you sometimes find that the Lacto-Bacilli are digesting the milk faster than you are, and that you get...

Gas, bloating, and the runs...

This will not "hurt a healthy person", but it will "give you a tummy ache"

If all the sugar has been converted to acid, you won't get Gas or bloating, but you may get the runs: I find that if I have a really unbalanced ph meal, (like only tomatoes) it tends to go straight through me.
#25
Old 12-06-2014, 10:30 PM
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"Unspoiled milk is generally safe." This is a valid premise.
"Spoiled milk is generally dangerous." This is the assumption implicit in the OP, but isn't a valid conclusion. "Spoiled milk can't be assumed to be safe" is a better corollary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
There's a significant difference between properly soured milk—e.g. buttermilk, yogurt, clabber, sour cream, crème fraîche, kefir—and spoiled milk. The former is good. The latter is not. When it goes off after its expiration date in your fridge, there's nothing you can do but throw it away. It tastes like ass and would probably make you sick. Sorry. I guess it depends on the exact type of culture you have going there. They're not all the same. Some are desirable and some completely ruin the milk.
Bingo.

The poll makes no sense because it has an invalid assumption, that "more spoiled" is "worse for you". No, a better statement is, the longer it goes, the more cultures you'll get in it. Cultures of what? Lactogens. As it turns out (as I learned in BioEng 495), a lot of pathogens are lactogens, for reasons that made sense then but I don't recall. Well, all those lovely things mentioned above are lactogens and safe. But when you let milk go bad, and it's been open to the air a few times, you're playing lactogen russian roulette.

As it turns out, it's russian roulette with a lot of chambers, way more than six, so your odds of getting very nastily sick are pretty low each time you do it, but a habit of it is not good, and it's bad public health policy to encourage people to drink sour milk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I'd be interested in an authoritative answer about when "sour" milk is actually unsafe to consume.
See above and below: there isn't really a sensible answer to this question, because the question doesn't quite acknowledge the facts. The taste is related to particular bacteria, but it's other bacteria that we worry about. You could do a probability analysis and give an authoritative statistical answer. What would your limit for probability of potentially lethal bacteria be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
I have often drunk milk that is a bit sour, and even, on occasion, milk that has begun to curdle a bit. The curds will usually sink, so sometimes I don't even know it curdling until I have drunk a bit (and it sometimes does not seem more than slightly sour, even when there are curd down there). It doesn't taste very good, bit I have never never noticed any sort of digestive problems caused by any of this. Sometimes, if the end of a bottle is souring, I will mix small amounts of it into my fresh milk, just to use it up.
Yup, and I've eaten a lot of very rare hamburger, and it hasn't gotten me sick yet. That doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Food poisoning is all a matter of how much is in there and of what type. At best, you'll get an answer like "x% of people got sick under the described handling methods." We don't actually know the details of how the OP's milk was handled, though.

Many of the things considered unsafe in modern food handling are mitigating very small risks. After all, if even 1% of people got food poisoning, we'd consider that unacceptable. From a manufacturer's standpoint, that's hundreds of people a day getting sick. On the other hand, if you're an individual weighing the odds of surviving that last bit of sour milk, 99% chance of no problem seems like a pretty safe bet.
Bingo. This points out the difference between personal risk and public policy. I do things where there's a 0.01% chance of something bad happening, but I don't do them thousands of times, and if I were in charge of public policy, I'd select policy to discourage them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
There is NO relationship between smell and pathogenic microorganisms. Spoilage microorganisms and pathogenic microorganisms are two separate and distinct set of species. You can have milk that smells perfectly fine that cause harm and milk that is inedibly rotten that you could drink with abandon.
Bingo ... at best there's some statistical correlation between spoilage and danger. The better correlation is that since spoilage is pretty much guaranteed after a given time, if it's not spoiled yet, then it's also very likely to be safe. The converse isn't justified.

Quote:
With proper pasteurization and avoidance of cross contamination, milk is acceptably safe for it's entire usable lifespan. Throw milk out when it's unpalatable but not because it will make you sick.
Well, it definitely could make you sick. Even with perfect pasteurization (which we have pretty close to these days, with irradiation, yielding long shelf lives before opening), once the container is open, bets are off: anything could get in there.
#26
Old 12-07-2014, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Learjeff View Post
Well, it definitely could make you sick. Even with perfect pasteurization (which we have pretty close to these days, with irradiation, yielding long shelf lives before opening), once the container is open, bets are off: anything could get in there.
Milk is not irradiated in the US due to fears of scary, evil radiation.
#27
Old 12-07-2014, 09:48 AM
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I always put a drop of milk in my morning coffee, like 2 tablespoons worth if I measured it. If my coffee is full of tiny white flecks of souring milk, I'll drink it anyway! Hasn't inconvenienced me yet. The carton of souring milk goes out, though.
#28
Old 12-07-2014, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
Milk is not irradiated in the US due to fears of scary, evil radiation.
Thanks, ignorance fought!
#29
Old 09-16-2017, 08:18 PM
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Spoiled milk and cheese

Raised in a country without refrigeration, chunky milk and green cheese was considered normal. Nobody got sick, lived into their 80's and 90's in their own home without developing Alzeimers.
#30
Old 09-16-2017, 11:06 PM
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Milk will eventually go bad enough to be a non-negligible health risk. However, it will also eventually go bad enough that it tastes really bad, and it'll almost always do that before it becomes a health risk. I won't drink milk that tastes bad, but that's not because I'm afraid that it'll make me sick; it's because it tastes bad.
#31
Old 09-17-2017, 01:23 AM
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My grandfather occasionally drank spoiled milk with cinnamon sprinkled on top. I never tasted it, but my older brother developed the taste. (For comparison, my brother also liked dark chocolate, but I don't.)

Last edited by rowrrbazzle; 09-17-2017 at 01:23 AM.
#32
Old 09-17-2017, 08:02 AM
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Of all of the myriad things that have sickened me, milk is not one of them. When milk is bad, you'll know it.
#33
Old 09-17-2017, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Reisenweber View Post
Raised in a country without refrigeration, chunky milk and green cheese was considered normal. Nobody got sick, lived into their 80's and 90's in their own home without developing Alzeimers.
Where, may I ask?
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#34
Old 09-22-2017, 10:40 PM
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Well, by now, it certainly bad!
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