Download Article Download Article

😶😜😇 You're about to dig into a container of yogurt—until you notice the expiration date printed on it. Whether that date is coming up fast or already past, you want to make sure the yogurt is safe to eat. But how do you know for sure? In this article, we'll cover all the signs of spoiled yogurt so you can enjoy it without fear (or toss it out if you need to). We'll also explain what the date on the container really means and what happens if you accidentally eat bad yogurt.

Section 1 of 5:
Signs of Spoiled or Bad Yogurt

  1. 1
    There’s a lot of water on the surface. It’s normal for the whey to separate a little, so if you see a thin layer of liquid on top, it’s probably fine—just stir the liquid in (or pour it out) before you eat the yogurt. If there’s a puddle or a thick layer of liquid, it’s more likely that your yogurt is bad.[1]
    • Don’t toss it just yet—check for other signs of spoilage first.
    • It doesn’t matter what kind of yogurt you’re eating—regular, nonfat, or Greek. The signs of spoilage are the same.[2]
  2. 2
    The texture is lumpy instead of smooth. Stir the yogurt with a spoon and check out the texture. If you notice lumps or chunks, or if the texture seems gelatinous and the yogurt is hard to stir, it’s past its prime and starting to go bad.[3]
  3. 3
    The yogurt smells sour, weird, or gross. Put your nose close to the yogurt and breathe in slowly. Good yogurt will smell fresh, or barely have a smell at all. Spoiled yogurt will smell sour, rancid, yeasty, or just plain wrong.[4]
    • Maybe you aren’t sure if the yogurt smells weird or not. If you see other signs of spoilage, throw it out.
  4. 4
    There’s mold or discoloration on the surface. This may seem like a no-brainer, but take a closer look anyway—sometimes moldy spots are really small! If you see any pink, gray, or fuzzy-looking patches on your yogurt, throw it out. You definitely don't want to eat mold—it can make you sick.[5]
  5. 5
    It has a sour, stale, or unusual taste. We don’t recommend taste-testing it, but what if you accidentally ate a spoonful before noticing something was off? Or maybe it looked and smelled it okay, so you went for it. The flavor will give it away immediately—spoiled yogurt will taste sour and unpleasant.[6]
    • Eating a spoonful is unlikely to make you sick, so don’t worry if you accidentally ate a little bit.
  6. 6
    The container looks bloated or swollen. If the plastic container looks warped, the yogurt may have been exposed to heat or humidity—so it’s almost certainly bad. If the airtight seal is broken, definitely toss the yogurt out—it could be contaminated.[7]
  7. 7
    The yogurt has been sitting out for more than 2 hours. Maybe you accidentally left your groceries sitting on the counter—it happens! If it's been 2 hours or less, just stick the yogurt in the fridge immediately. Sitting out at room temperature may have shortened its shelf life, though, so eat it sooner rather than later.[8]
    • It's difficult to know just how much shorter the shelf life will be if you leave yogurt out at room temperature, so be sure to evaluate it for signs of spoilage before you dig in.
    • That said, the warmer the temperature, the faster it will spoil. For example, if you left yogurt out in the heat (90 °F (32 °C) and up) for more than an hour, throw it away.
  8. Advertisement

Section 2 of 5:
How long is yogurt good for after you open it?

Section 3 of 5:
How long does Greek yogurt last?

  1. Greek yogurt usually lasts 1-2 weeks if properly stored in the fridge. Typically, the storage rules, shelf life, and signs of spoilage are the same for regular and Greek yogurt. According to the USDA, all types of yogurt will stay fresh for 1-2 weeks as long as it's stored in the refrigerator at 40 °F (4 °C).[10]
    • Greek yogurt is just regular yogurt with the whey removed, which results in a thicker consistency. Strained yogurt was popularized by a Greek brand, but it didn't actually originate in Greece.[11]
  2. Advertisement

Section 4 of 5:
Can you eat yogurt past the expiration date?

  1. Eat unopened yogurt within 15 days of the date on the container. The date printed on the container is usually a "sell by" or "use by" date (rather than an expiration date). That's the date when the quality of the yogurt begins to deteriorate. As long as the yogurt looks and smells normal, it’s safe to consume.[12]
    • Always store yogurt in the refrigerator at 40 °F (4 °C) to prevent spoilage. You can also freeze yogurt for 1-2 months, although the texture may change.[13]

Section 5 of 5:
What happens if you eat spoiled yogurt?

  1. You may experience symptoms of food poisoning if you eat spoiled yogurt. Mild symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Typically, if you're going to develop symptoms at all (some people don't), they'll begin within a few hours of eating the spoiled food.[14]
    • How sick you get depends on the type of bacteria you consumed, how much you ate, and whether you’re immuno-compromised or not.
    • Symptoms may last for a few hours to a couple of days. You don't need to seek medical attention for mild symptoms. To recover quickly, be sure to rest and stay hydrated.
    • Seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms like:
      • Bloody vomit or stools
      • Extreme abdominal pain
      • Diarrhea that lasts longer than 3 days
      • Severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
      • Blurry vision or muscle weakness
  2. Advertisement

Community Q&A

Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

      About This Article

      Co-authored by:
      wikiHow Staff Writer
      This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain. Amber Crain has been a member of wikiHow’s writing staff for the last six years. She graduated from the University of Houston where she majored in Classical Studies and minored in Painting. Before coming to wikiHow, she worked in a variety of industries including marketing, education, and music journalism. She's been a radio DJ for 10+ years and currently DJs a biweekly music program on the award-winning internet radio station DKFM. Her work at wikiHow supports her lifelong passion for learning and her belief that knowledge belongs to anyone who desires to seek it.
      3 votes - 100%
      Co-authors: 3
      Updated: June 5, 2022
      Views: 495
      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 495 times.

      Did this article help you?