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It seems to me that it would be subject to the same bacterial/spoiling processes that the larger containers are.

And if it's that opening a container exposes the cream to contamiants (which I believe), then why do the larger containers have "sell by" and expiration dates whereas the little packets do not?

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Maybe they contain preservatives? –  nico Sep 8 '11 at 17:26
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Those single serving 'creamers' have been manufactured using Ultra High Temperature (UHT) processing. According to wikipedia (the most reliable information source in the multiverse!), milk treated by UHT has an unopened shelf life of 6 to 9 months.

The reason there is no 'best before' date is that they are purchased in bulk by the merchant, the container for a bunch of them (which the retail buyer will rarely see) would have the best before date on it.

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Just as a little extra info, if you look on the shelves of your local grocer, you will find large containers of UHT milk that is shelf stable. Here in Canada, it is normally stored in one litre tetra packs. That being said, it tastes like ass (although, I can't say that for sure, it was just the best analogy I could think up on the fly). –  mrwienerdog Sep 9 '11 at 1:25
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