I thought that I knew my stuff about cream – we even did an article about it for people who are confused about cream – but I got a bit flummoxed when I discovered that a carton of whipping cream had gone off.
The first step, of course, was to search on the internet to see what other people might have to say about it. That led to even more confusion. Many people don’t seem to know the difference between soured cream (cream which has been soured and thickened by the controlled action of lactic acid bacteria) and cream which has gone off. Soured cream is delicious, but cream that’s gone off is a different thing entirely.
I searched and I asked around, but I was getting nowhere. People sometimes do have a tendency to spout off when they don’t know what they’re talking about. Tsk. Oh well, I’ll go straight to the top and ask The Dairy Council. (Their link has been in my blogroll for a long time as a useful resource for foodies.) I never really expected to get an answer. BUT!
I received a wonderful reply from Sarah Stevenson-Rouse BSc, PG Dip, RD, who is a Nutrition Scientist with The Dairy Council.
This is what Sarah said:
It is not advisable to consume cream once it has perished, even though the spoilage bacteria present are not likely to be harmful.
It is the spoilage bacteria that are causing the cream to “go off” because as they multiply they break down the cream into volatile by-products. The carbohydrate (lactose) in cream will be broken down to lactic acid and the protein in cream will be broken into amino acids. The lactic acid will eventually cause the protein to coagulate (clump together) and this may eventually result in lumps. The by-products will be responsible for the sour taste and any ‘bad smell’.
We would recommend to always consume dairy products by the “Use by” date.
Having dithered about and having got so many conflicting views on this matter, I’m really glad that I could get such help from an expert. Ain’t it great that British institutions like The Dairy Council will take the time to help members of the general public in this way? I’m impressed!
Thank you Sarah, and The Dairy Council.