Some people believe that since sour cream is already sour, it has a very long shelf life.
The bad news is that it does spoil, and in fact, it spoils pretty quickly because mold and bacteria thrive in dairy products with sugars and proteins.
According to the safety regulations provided by the USDA, sour cream is safe and suitable to eat for up to three weeks following the sell-by date. But this is true only if it has been kept in the refrigerator at all times and at temperatures of a maximum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
You should utilize the sour cream within the next 7–10 days of opening it.
Keep in mind that sour cream is a dairy product and that it should never be consumed if it has gone rancid. Its best-by date was printed there for this specific reason.
To be safe, always put the sour cream back in the refrigerator straight away.
What occurs then if you leave the sour cream out on the counter?
How Long Can Sour Cream Sit Out?
The US Department of Health & Human Services warns that sour cream has been stored at room temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit for no longer than two hours.
If the temperature in the kitchen is higher than 90 degrees F, then the sour cream can start growing spoilage and harmful bacteria after only an hour.
The same goes not only for your tub of sour cream but for any dish, dip, and dessert which has added sour cream.
It is a good idea to buy the sour cream at the very end of your shopping, and if possible, place it in a cooler until you get home.
This will help prevent spoilage and eventual food poisoning.
Related: Can You Freeze Sour Cream?
The Dangers of Consuming Sour Cream Which Has Gone Bad
If the sour cream has started changing its color from white to pink, yellow or blue, or if you can see mold or detect a rancid smell, or a bitter and sharp flavor, it has most likely gone bad.
The best thing to do is to dispose of any old or suspicious sour cream.
If you happen to eat spoiled sour cream, you risk getting foodborne poisoning or foodborne illness. It can make you mildly or very sick, with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, stomach ache, and more.
In some severe cases, food poisoning can be fatal.
CDC Statistics show more than 127,000 hospitalizations and an average of 3,000 deaths resulting from food poisoning in the USA.
In other words, if you have old or suspicious-looking, smelling, or tasting sour cream, then you better not risk eating it or using it for cooking or making desserts!
Did you know, that sour cream is one of the best substitutes for ricotta cheese?