Tips from the Experts

Do You Need to Remove the Foil on Your Yogurt?

We’ve all opened yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese containers. But none of us have ever been sure what to do about the foil liner on top.
By

Published May 29, 2023.

Ours is a dairy-loving household. Each month, my boyfriend and I go through buckets of yogurt (eaten with honey and walnuts or dolloped on lentil soup), sour cream (pierogi, nachos, dips), ricotta (on toast and pasta), and cottage cheese (have you made our cult-favorite lasagna yet?). 

There’s just one thing that sends ripples through our otherwise placid, pro-dairy relationship: What should we do with the foil cover that sits on top of those yogurt, sour cream, ricotta, and cottage cheese containers? 

He thinks it should stay on to help keep the flavor fresh. I rip it off whenever I see it because I think it just gets in the way, smearing sour cream or yogurt on my hand when I go to spoon some out. 

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

It’s a matter of some importance, given the frequency with which we eat these things. I would be lying if I told you that voices were never raised in this debate.

Clearly, we needed professional help. 

So I sent my question to representatives from Fage, Stonyfield, the International Dairy Foods Association, and the Cornell Dairy Foods Extension.

And, not to get smug, but it turns out I was right.

Everyone I talked to agreed that, yes, it’s best to remove the foil cover after you open your dairy product. According to John Allan, vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards at the International Dairy Foods Association, the foil coverings serve three main purposes:

  1. They help to prevent tampering of the product (if the seal is broken, it would indicate tampering).
  2. They prevent leakage or spillage of the product during shipping and handling by the stores and consumers.
  3. Because the foil keeps air and odors out but moisture in, the covers help maintain quality.

“Once the product is opened, the foil can be completely removed and discarded,” he said.

So go ahead and rip that foil cover off. It does nothing once the product itself has been opened, since it no longer provides an airtight seal. 

Article

The Right Way to Say Hard-to-Pronounce Food Brands

We use these iconic brands every day. But are we pronouncing their names right?
Learn More

But what about the paper liner that covers some yogurt? 

You can rip that off too. 

Kimberly Bukowski, director of the Dairy Certificate Program at the Cornell Dairy Foods Extension, told me, “The paper seal under the foil lid is used to keep the surface dry in storage because yogurt does have a tendency to whey off over time.”

“Wheying off is the term used to describe when liquid whey separates from the yogurt and you get a layer of fluid sitting on top,” Allan explained. “This can happen with some yogurts depending on how they are made, the ingredients used (e.g., stabilizers that can capture the water and keep it from separating), and how much fat is in the yogurt,” he added. The paper on top of the yogurt keeps this to a minimum.

The paper won’t do much to keep whey from separating out once you start digging into the yogurt, of course, so you can just discard it as well. (Stir any whey right back into the yogurt if you see it.)

May this knowledge help keep the peace in your household as well as it did mine (eventually).

This is a members' feature.