Is the date on a milk carton the sell-by or use-by date?

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait

I will admit looking this up just now …

As the milk bottle/carton goes through the filling line, it’s automatically stamped with whatever date is 10 days after the milk was pasteurized.  That number of days can vary (for New  York City it’s only 4 days).

Milk tastes the same for 7 days after pasteurization and should be nearly the same for 4 more days after that … so you have a couple days at least after the sell-by date on the carton.

But it depends .  Which leaves you with the sniff test being the only way to know for sure.  If it smells or tastes funny, throw it away..

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