Can You Drink Yogurt Drinks Like Yakult Past Its Expiration Date?

Better check that "Best Before" date!
3 yakult bottles against a black background

What is the difference between expiration dates and best before dates?

The expiry date is different from the best-before date

Expiration dates are dates when the food will no longer have the quality you expect. These are commonly placed on canned food.

Best before dates are the “recommended last consumption date” because the quality of the food beyond this date may have already changed. These are dates commonly found on freshly packaged food and other highly perishable food.

For both kinds of pre-packaged food, these dates are estimates and do not mean that the food has gone bad and is no longer edible. It just may not taste as flavorful or have the same nutritional value anymore as it originally did. That’s why for food safety reasons, it’s best that expired food should not be consumed anymore. 

However, what about food with probiotics? Probiotics are microscopic living organisms that when consumed, have a beneficial effect on your body. The most common of these live microorganisms are bacteria, and of these bacteria, some are beneficial such as the Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota that you can find in a bottle of Yakult

This is why such drinks need to be refrigerated after purchase to prevent these beneficial organisms from dying before it’s consumed. This is also the reason why it should not be added to hot or even warm beverages which can kill off these beneficial bacteria. 

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However, Yakult and yogurt do have a best before date and it’s commonly printed clearly on the packages. If you find that you have Yakult or other fermented dairy products such as yogurt that have expired, should you throw it out? 


Can you drink Yakult and other yogurt drinks past their expiry dates? 

The Yakult website recommends that Yakult not be drunk after its best before date. This is based on the quality of the drink, including its taste, and it says that it’s best “to discard any remaining product after the “best if used by” date.” 

This is probably because the live microorganisms in the drink may no longer be alive

Remember that probiotics are living bacteria and that for these beneficial bacteria to do its job, it needs to be alive when consumed. Any live microorganisms that survived past this due date may also be significantly less than originally estimated. This means you are not getting the health benefits you think you getting when you drink it when it is expired. 

What is the shelf life? 

Fermented drinks such as Yakult that contain these beneficial live microorganisms have a shelf life of 45 days. Beyond this, unopened yogurt drinks are said to last up to 10 days beyond the expiry date. Yogurt, if unopened, can last two to three weeks refrigerated and lasts up to three months if frozen. 

If you have a package of Yakult or other yogurt drinks in your refrigerator, heed the expiration date, so you can benefit from the helpful bacteria in it. 



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