What Are the Dangers of Unrefrigerated Milk?

Updated April 17, 2017

Milk is generally known for it's nutritional qualities. It contains calcium and vitamin D, which are important for bone health. However, if milk is not refrigerated for more than 10 minutes it can become hazardous to your health. Before drinking milk, you need to be aware of dangerous food-borne illnesses that can develop in milk that is not refrigerated properly.


Salmonella is a deadly food-borne illness that can develop in unrefrigerated milk. It occurs withing 48 hours and causes vomiting, abdominal cramping, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and fever. If unrefrigerated milk develops salmonella and comes in contact with other foods it will contaminate that food as well.

Shigella Bacteria

Shigella bacteria starts to develop in milk once it has reached room temperature. Like salmonella, it causes vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and fever, plus blood, puss or mucous in the stool. Symptoms subside within 6 days from onset. Shigella bacteria is also spread when proper sanitary habits, such as hand-washing, are not practised.

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus can occur when milk reaches room temperature. Symptoms of consuming milk with stayphylococcus bacteria can occur within 6 hours. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually subside within three days, but may last longer if dehydration has occurred.

Listeria Monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes can cause symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and diarrhoea. In severe cases it can cause an infection that spreads to the nervous system. If this occurs the individual that consumed the contaminated milk may experience convulsions, loss of balance and confusion. People with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women or the elderly may die from listeria.

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About the Author

Stormy Lee has been writing professionally since 1997. Many of her articles appear online at various websites. Lee specializes in writing education-related articles and has experience in proofreading and writing reviews for schools in Palm Beach County. Lee holds a master's degree in education from Florida Atlantic University.