How Long Can Yogurt Be Left Out?

Whether eaten as part of a healthy breakfast, a post-meal desert or a snack in between meals, yogurt is a delicious and versatile food enjoyed across the world everyday.

As well as tasting great yogurt is also a favorite food of the health and fitness community. This is because it’s a natural source of probiotics and can even be a useful tool for weight management.

But how long can yogurt sit out? Because it’s a dairy product it needs to be stored with care to make sure that it stays fresh, else it can quickly spoil.

In this article we explain how long yogurt can sit out and how you can tell if it has gone off. We’ll also look at how to properly store it to maximise freshness for as long as possible.

Why Spoiled Yogurt is Dangerous

Yogurt in Wooden Bowl

Like other dairy products, yogurt is a fertile breeding ground for mold and other harmful microorganisms.

If you do get food poisoning from eating yogurt that has gone bad, the effects are no fun at all. Symptoms of food poisoning from yogurt include breathing difficulties, extreme abdominal discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea.

Not only are the health risks of eating spoiled yogurt high, but it also typically tastes awful as well. Eating yogurt that has gone past its shelf life is something you should avoid at all costs!

If you’re worried that you have already eaten some spoiled yogurt and are experiencing symptoms, especially vomiting, please consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

How Long can Yogurt be Left Out?

So we know that once its gone spoiled yogurt can be really bad for your health. But how long can yogurt sit before spoiling? Well, if you let yogurt sit outside of the fridge, the window of safe consumption is surprisingly small. The official advice is that yogurt left at 40 degrees fahrenheit or above for two hours or more should be thrown out. Yogurt stored at 90 degrees fahrenheit fairs even worse and can only be left out for one hour.

Keep in mind that ‘room temperature’ in the standard American home is between 68 and 72 degrees fahrenheit. This means that realistically if you’ve left your yogurt, whether unopened or not, out of the fridge for a couple of hours (at most!) you must throw it out to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

How Can You Tell If Yogurt is Spoiled?

We know that leaving yogurt to sit outside the fridge for more than two hours is a big no-no. But of course, even refrigerated yogurt can still spoil. To make sure that your food is safe, you should always check that it is still edible. Fortunately there are a number of ways to tell whether yogurt has gone bad and should be immediately thrown out.

Check the expiry date. Before you even peel the lid off, check the expiry or ‘best before’ date printed on the packaging. If the date has passed, err on the side of caution and toss it out.

Look for mold. After opening, take a look at the surface of your yogurt. If you can see any spots of mold – which manifest as ‘fuzzy’ spots with a brown or green color, chuck it away immediately! Trust us when we say that there are few things more disgusting than eating moldy yogurt.

Check the consistency. If your yogurt has a thick texture and is starting to resemble cottage cheese more than yogurt, get rid of it. On the flip side, if the texture of the yogurt is very watery this is also a sign that you should discard it.

Conduct the ‘smell test’. The final habit you should develop with yogurt is to give it a quick sniff before eating. Even if it otherwise looks fine, if it smells ‘off’ it has gone bad and you should throw it out.

How to Properly Store Yogurt

Greek Yogurt

You know that you don’t want to consume yogurt that gone bad, so how do you ensure that it lasts as long as possible? Here are our tips to preserve yogurt and keep it fresh as long as possible:

Always Refrigerate!

We hope we’ve driven home the point that the temperature you leave yogurt will make a huge difference to its shelf life. Therefore it’s important to always store your yogurt in a refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees fahrenheit or lower. Stored this way, unopened yogurt should retain its freshness for up to two weeks. If opened, you can keep yogurt in the fridge for up to one week.

Use the Top Shelf

Avoid storing your yogurt in the fridge door. Instead, keep it on the top shelf of the fridge where the temperature is more consistently cold to maximise freshness.

Plan Ahead for Lunch

If you’re taking yogurt out of the house with you for lunch and you’re not planning to eat it for more than 2 hours, it’s recommended that you include an ice pack with your yogurt to keep it cool and fresh until you consume it.

Freeze for Long-Term Storage

If you have extra yogurt in the fridge and don’t see yourself eating it within 2 weeks, consider moving it to the freezer. Unopened yogurt stored in this way can last for up to 2 months whilst opened yogurt can be frozen for up to 1 month.