Cream cheese is a soft, white cheese, made from milk fat. The popular breakfast spread was created in 1872 by American dairyman William Lawrence. Unlike hard cheese that has a long lifespan, cream cheese it best consumed while it's still fresh. Whether you’ve forgotten about the cheese at the back of the refrigerator or had a power failure, inspect cream cheese to make sure it remains fresh, and when it doubt, throw it out.
Check the expiration date on the outer box or wrapper of the cream cheese. It is safe to use unopened cream cheese up to one month past the expiration date. Once opened, it should be used within 10 days.
Discard cream cheese if it grows mold or turns green. While certain cheeses are made with mold, such as blue cheese, Gorgonzola and Roquefort, cream cheese should not.
Discard cream cheese if your refrigerator lost power for several hours, causing a marked rise in temperature.
Consider throwing away cheese if it crusts on the outside.
Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.