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Cottage cheese spoiling well before expiration date

I just threw out half a 48 ounce container of Breakstone 2% Cottage Cheese that I bought recently @ Costco. It had soured and broken down. The expiration date on the bottom was May 20th. I called Kraft and they said the expiration date is only for unopened product and that once you open it the shelf life is about 5 days. When I buy milk and other highly perishable foods I look @ the expiration date and figure that's the earliest it will spoil, opened or not, as long as I keep it well refrigerated (always under 40F.). There is an indication on the package that states "for best quality use within 5 days of opening. I think this caveat should be declared on the date stamp. If today was May 15th I would not feel cheated but this is 18 days before the stamped expiation date. Is this product blanketed with nitrogen or some other preservative? Regardless, no more 48 ounce containers for me.

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  1. This is why I don't buy giant containers of anything perishable.

    1. How many days ago did you open it?

      2 Replies
      1. re: ohmyyum

        last weekend. I think this product must have gotten out of the cold chain @ some point. I've had opened cottage cheese last weeks.

        1. re: zackly

          Me too, I think that's odd. It usually lasts a good long while, weeks...

      2. I've had sealed cottage cheese last for quite a long time past the expiration date, but once you open it, you are working on borrowed time. Sometimes it lasts longer than others once opened. I would guess that there was something on the utensil that you used to scoop it out that caused it to break down faster.

        I find that I have better luck with dairy products (sour cream, yogurt, ricotta, cottage cheese) if I store them upside down in the fridge before and after opening. Maybe this is in my head, but I'm going to go with it because it seems to work for me.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jw615

          I agree - I suspect that there was "double dipping" involved here. Once you do that, all bets are off. Keeping the opened container in the lower rear section of the fridge helps a bit but makes it more likely you'll forget to use it because you may not notice it there.

        2. Most likely it was contaminated by an outside source, did you lick the spoon and put it in the container??

          3 Replies
            1. re: zackly

              There you go. Bacteria from your mouth on the spoon. Someone posted on CH a few years ago about touching cheese with bare fingers and, sure enough, when I started using gloves to handle cheese, it lasted much longer.

              1. re: EM23

                This is SO true - any type of contamination at all is terrible for cheese. Gloves are a great recommendation.

          1. I eat a lot of cottage cheese, but if you don't dish it out of the container with a clean spoon every time, it will go bad swiftly. Never use a spoon you've put in your mouth, or in other food for that matter.

            1. My experience has been similar, with cottage cheese as well as other cheeses in general. Once a little bit of outside bacteria enters the action, usually it's fully involved before too long. But if one is reasonably careful, even cottage cheese can last for a week or ten days after opening provided it's kept cold. Ricotta's another one that's quite sensitive- I've never been able to keep an open container of ricotta more than four or five days.

              I think there are a couple of factors at work here. First,the flavor is fairly delicate and it doesn't take much for things to taste "off." Second, the more liquid the texture, the easier it is for bacteria to disperse throughout. Harder cheeses will mold first on the outer surfaces, but cottage cheese and ricotta go bad all the way through.

              Still, even solid cheeses hold better for me since I stopped touching them barehanded then putting them back in the fridge.

              1. Air is the enemy. A long time ago I read that if you store the container of cottage cheese upside down, the product will squeeze out all the air. I think you should probably put a plate underneath it, in case some liquid leaks out.

                I do this with my jars of salsa, which have the same problem.

                1. I've rarely had any spoilage with 16 oz. containers. I guess I'll stick to that size..There is a thread about storing cottage cheese inverted posted by the Chowhound folks.

                  1. The dates aren't all expiration dates though. There is sell by, best buy, use by and expiration dates. Fluid milk products usually have a sell by date but the milk and buttermilk I buy at Costco both have best by dates, the yogurt I get at the natural foods store has a sell by date. I don't have any cottage cheese in the house to check it though.

                    1. I have had the same issue but with milk. I always try to purchase the milk with the latest date that I can. It sours sometimes days before the best if used by date. And heaven forbid that I should leave a small amount in the bottom of the bottle. I am going to give the much more expensive Shatto milk in the glass bottle a try. Even if it is more expensive it will be cheaper in the long run if I don't have to pitch it. Let me add, I generally by the 1/2 gallon bottle. Next option will be to mix my own from evaporate milk.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Busqueen10

                        My working theory is that the buy before dates are under the assumption that your milk is still closed until then. Once you open the carton, it's on a totally different timeline.

                        Your best best is probably to buy milk in smaller cartons -- even if you buy 2 at the same time, the second one won't start to go off until you open it.

                      2. Ever since I turned down the temp in our fridge to the mid to low 30s, nothing goes bad. Dairy keeps way past the sell by date, weeks, even months if its unopened yogurt.

                        1. Breakstone is very tangy tasting, it may have been good.

                          1. Hey all - I saw the headline on the post and the first thing that came to mind was the recent recall... this applies to Breakstone and a few other brands:

                            Costco will probably issue you a refund since they are awesome about returns. For other stores, you might need to return the product (or at least the empty container).