Can out-of-date cream make you sick?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can out-of-date cream make you sick?”, why does cream go bad, what is the shelf-life of heavy cream, how to tell if the cream has gone bad, can you freeze cream, and how to store cream for an extended shelf-life.

Can out-of-date cream make you sick?

Yes, out-of-date cream can make you sick. Some people may be fine after consuming cream that has just crossed its expiry. Others, especially those with a lactic allergy, may experience worse gastric symptoms such as stomach cramps and pain. 

It is not recommended to consume expired cream even if it looks good because health comes first. In most cases, you will naturally be repulsed to eating cream that is bad for you due to its bad odor, off-taste, and unappealing texture.

Why does cream go bad?

The cream comes from milk which is not sterile. Milk Pasteurization only reduces the number of vegetative bacteria in milk and not the spore-forming ones. 

Such bacteria grow beyond the safety threshold when exposed to the correct conditions such as warm temperatures. The result is sour or curdled milk or cream which is not fit for making sauces or baking. 

Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream is only safe to consume a couple of days past the expiry if stored correctly. If the expiry was months ago, you better discard your cream even if it looks alright. 

Remember that expired heavy cream loses some of its functional properties. The further you move away from expiry, the poorer it gets.

Prolonged storage also gives harmful bacteria a chance to grow uncontrollably and cause diseases when contaminated milk is consumed. 

Milk is commonly contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes which causes complications for pregnant women. Other notorious bacteria that contaminate milk include enteropathic E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella species, and Brucella species.

What is the shelf-life of heavy cream?

The processing, handling, and storage are the key determinants of the shelf-life of heavy cream. The cream comes from milk fat. The high percentage of fat in cream makes it susceptible to spoilage. The following table shows the expiration dates of different types of cream.

Cream type (Unopened) In the fridge In the freezer 
Light cream 7-10 days 
Whipping cream 7-10 days 2-3 months 
Heavy cream 1-2 weeks 3-4 months 
Double cream 2-3 weeks 3-4 months 
Canned dream whip 2-3 months 
Cool whip1-2 weeks 5-6 months 

How to tell if the cream has gone bad?

Mold: Colored moldy presence is a strong indication of spoilage. Moldy cream should be immediately discarded as it can cause food poisoning upon consumption. 

Sour smell: Heavy cream should not smell like sour cream. If your cream gives off a fermented odor, toss it.

Off-taste: Inspect the cream for any deviations from the original taste. If the cream tastes weird, throw it out.

Poorly whipped: Cream that does not wipe properly indicates that it is expired or old. You can either discard it for quality purposes or use it where it does not need to be whipped.

How to store cream to extend its shelf-life?

The cream must be refrigerated at all times. Whether the seal is broken or not, the cream should always be placed in the fridge, at the back of it if possible. Since the back of the fridge is the coldest part where temperature fluctuations are minimal.

If the original container of the cream is damaged or does not provide a proper seal, transfer the cream into an air-tight container. The cardboard or paper containers will yield anyway. So store your cream in a good quality air-tight container regardless of the condition of the seal. 

Make sure the container stays air-tight in between uses. Because we want to reduce the exposure of cream to unwanted odors, bacteria, and cold air that can dry it out.

If you cannot find a proper air-tight container, use a bowl with its mouth covered with foil. Secure the foil in place using rubber bands.

Can you freeze heavy cream?

Yes, you can freeze heavy cream but it is not recommended, especially for certain types of creams such as light cream, canned dream whip, and cool whip. Freezing irreversibly changes the texture and functional properties of the cream.

For example, frozen cream after defrosting may not whip according to the expectations, rendering it useful in baking and decorating. But it is better than letting the leftover heavy cream sit in the fridge and slowly go bad. 


In this article, we answered the question “Can out-of-date cream make you sick?”, why does cream go bad, what is the shelf-life of heavy cream, how to tell if the cream has gone bad, can you freeze cream, and how to store cream for an extended shelf-life.

References bacteria%20that%20 produce,cream%20could%20make%20you%20sick 

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