Author Topic: Canned food that has expired ?  (Read 30368 times)

Offline surfivor

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Canned food that has expired ?
« on: October 29, 2011, 04:19:33 PM »
 I have heard Jack say that food that older than it's expired date is usually ok to eat, but it seems like he was talking about dried food. My question is what about canned food ? I know my grandmother seemed to have alot of pretty old cans in her basement back in her day. Nowadays, it seems like I buy a some cans and before I know it they are expired. The expiration date is rarely more than 2 years out .. What is the real danger of botulism and is it easy to tell if canned food should not be eaten because of the taste ? I seemed to find a link that said botulism from canned food is very rare, but my mother seems to always mention botulism and brings to my attention that I have expired cans of food down in the basement.

 If the can is old but not seriously dented etc, do you need to be concerned or how long to keep the can around for ? I guess food pantries and the like won't take anything that is expired. If you gave such expired food to someone as a gift, maybe if they got sick they might try to sue you even if you told them it was expired and maybe they got sick for some other reason anyway but decided it might have been your fault so maybe giving it to someone would be a bad idea regardless.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2011, 04:54:21 PM »
I've eaten a number of commercially canned foods that were years past the labeled expiration date including a can of tuna that was something like 5 years out from the labeled date.

Check to make sure the can isn't compromised in some way and absolutely be sure that it's not ballooned up. Open the can and give it a good smell. Your nose can usually detect spoilage, but in any case if your in doubt toss it or cook the food thoroughly.

A number of different food processors and packagers have stated that their food is good indefinitely as long as the can hasn't been compromised. This includes companies that can meat like Armor and Hormel.

From the Hormel Site FAQ:

"What is the shelf life of a Hormel Foods product in an unopened can?

The processing techniques utilized by Hormel Foods makes the canned product safe for use indefinitely if the product seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. It is suggested that all canned products be stored in a cool and dry environment to keep the flavor adequately preserved. For maximum flavor it is recommended that the product be used within three years of the manufacturing date. After that period of time, the product is still safe to use however, the flavor gradually declines."


From FDA Consumer Magazine in the article The Canning Process: Old Preservation Technique Goes Modern:

"Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand (A steamboat that sank in 1865) in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier."

and

"NFPA chemists also analyzed a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement of a home in California. Again, the canning process had kept the corn safe from contaminants and from much nutrient loss. In addition, Dudek says, the kernels looked and smelled like recently canned corn. "


When in doubt, throw it out, but in any case do what you think is right.


Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2011, 05:50:42 PM »
I've eaten many canned goods that were past their expiration dates.  About everything has been alright.  But Campbell's tomato soup can get pretty thick, dark colored and taste bad.  They also smell bad, so I didn't eat them.
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Offline Truik

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2011, 07:00:50 PM »
Most expiration dates have a wide margin for error.

Just this past week, someone in my office had packs of those long cheese rods that say "keep refrigerated" on them in her purse over the past weekend. She pulled them out and said was upset that she had to throw them away and had wasted her money. I told her I would take them if she were going to throw them away. She looked at me and then said I was welcome to them because she wasn't going to eat them.

I pulled some crackers out of my bag and made a nice little snack to go with my coffee while I waited for the office systems to come up. I had several people around me shake their head and saying they couldn't fathom that I was eating cheese that had not been refrigerated. I reminded them that the cheese had been in her purse and her purse had been in the air conditioning the vast majority of the time. I also reminded them that people have been making cheese for centuries in sealed wax and/or covered in wet cloths to preserve it at comparable temperatures and higher.

Still had people looking at me and shaking their head. The cheese was delicious and I'm still here.

 :)

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Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2011, 07:10:21 PM »
The Europeans with their unrefrigerated cheese would scoff at such apprehension.  ;D


Offline MightyRunt

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2011, 07:56:14 PM »
The date on the can is not an expiration date. It is a Best By date. After that date, it may lose a bit of it's texture or nutritional value, but is still fine to eat.  At the emergency food pantry where I volunteer, the USDA guidelines say that if the can is in good condition, we can give it out up to 5 years past the Best By date. After that, we put it in a box for the volunteers to take if they want it. I've been fine with things up to 8 yrs past the Best By date.

Offline Sarcasmo

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 11:52:11 PM »
Just be careful of acidic foods (such as tomato products) .  If you see obvious "de-tinning" in the can, toss it out!

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 09:21:28 AM »
Keep in mind the major factors in food storage are temperature, light, oxygen, moisture, and time.  While metal canned products control oxygen, moisture, and light very well, the two variables are temperature and time.  We can judge time based upon the BB date stamp, but temperature exposure over that time may be hard to see.  The USDA states that generally a constant 10 degree cooler storage temperature doubles storage life, and conversely a 10 degree increase in constant storage temperature halves storage life. 

So if canned goods are labeled 2 years (at 70 degree room temp) but are stored (or transported?) in an un-airconditioned warehouse for 90 days at 90 degrees, there could only be 90 days of shelf life left, in spite of the 21-month ahead date.  Something to think about.  Cans of food kept out in a backyard storage shed could be worthless after one summer if that shed gets 110-120 degrees in the sun.

As foods age, they not only loose flavor, but also nutritional value.  Sure, a person might be able to eat a ten year old can of so-and-so with no I'll effects, but all they may be getting out of it is bulk, little actual food value.  Even dried foods will loose food value over time.  The best retainer of value is freeze dried, it can have nutritional values still in the 90 percentiles after 25 years, when constantly kept in cool temperatures.

~TG
 

Offline Deeweext

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 05:20:45 PM »
There are a lot of case studies on cans viability past expiration date. Remember that expiration dates are commercial enforced by data on products, and will often be shorter, than you can eat it - so most products are good for well longer than the expiration date.

Consider how you stored the cans, incorrect temperature or moist will decrease the quality of food. Opening the can will also as mentioned above, give a great indication of the quality of the food, smell, looks and color. And a final note is, if the food you are trying to eat, can be cooked in any way, heating it up will kill of a lot of bacteria, so if possible you should always heat up the canned food. Although this may not apply to many products that can't be heated.
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Offline LdMorgan

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2011, 10:59:58 PM »
Also, when you first puncture the can, listen for the vacuum hiss. No hiss, no eat.

That's an inward hiss, BTW--not the outward hissing of a ballooned container. (Don't eat that, either!)

If the smell or taste are "bad", trust your senses. Many years of evolution went into developing them.

If it's a matter of life or death (i.e. the last can on your own personal Desert Island) try just a small taste and see if your body rebells.

If it does, the can no longer has food in it.

The only thing worse than eating spoiled food is throwing it back up afterwards. Except for the part about dying, of course.



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Offline Griz

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2011, 01:20:05 AM »
Here is some information from the Journal of Civil Defense with finding from different studies FYI:

http://www.grandpappy.info/hshelff.htm

Hope this info helps! :D

Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2011, 02:33:22 PM »
If the can is old but not seriously dented etc, do you need to be concerned or how long to keep the can around for ? I guess food pantries and the like won't take anything that is expired. If you gave such expired food to someone as a gift, maybe if they got sick they might try to sue you even if you told them it was expired and maybe they got sick for some other reason anyway but decided it might have been your fault so maybe giving it to someone would be a bad idea regardless.

Canned food has an indefinite shelf life from a microbiological standpoint.  The can is sealed and sterile - there is no way for microorganisms to get back into the can after it is sealed.  So don't worry about that.

As was pointed out, the biggest "danger" is a degradation of quality in terms of taste, texture and some vitamins.

As far as giving the food away goes, many states (mine included) have laws that specifically exempt you from liability regarding expired canned foods as lond as the cans aren't obviously bad (bulging, leaking, etc.).  It says:

“Food is apparently wholesome if it
meets all quality standards of local,
county, state, and federal agricultural and
health laws and rules, even though the
food is not readily marketable due to
appearance, age, freshness, grade, size,
surplus, or other condition
. Canned goods
that are leaking, swollen, dented on a
seam, or no longer airtight are not
apparently wholesome food.”


Offline painless

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 12:12:53 PM »
Just be careful of acidic foods (such as tomato products) .  If you see obvious "de-tinning" in the can, toss it out!

Yup.  Just tossed some canned sauerkraut. Probably was still edible, but rust stains on the inside of the lid, and had a metallic taste. In a shtf scenario, I would have kept it, but the stores still have some in stock, so I will re-supply.

BTW: These cans were at least 7 years old.

Offline nelson133

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 07:35:46 PM »
Here's a site that gives information on the long term viability of canned food.  http://www.grandpappy.info/hshelff.htm  In short, 100 year old food is still edible.  The US army ran tests on commercially canned food that was still good after 40 some years.   I have eaten home canned stuff that was 10 years old and it was fine.  Glass jars should be kept out of direct sunlight, but should be good as long as the seal is intact.

Offline merck26

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2012, 08:22:32 PM »
Sorry to revive such an old thread.I've read alot on canned vs cured.From what I gather,canned goods are as good as the condition of the can itself.There will be 'taste' degridation...but nutritional value should remain the same.If thought about in the most realistic way,any nutrients canned should be there till uncanned...but tatse is for the 'buds'.I cant see canned goods loosing nutrition.If it was canned with X nutritions...where would they go?  :P  But I didnt see anything on curing meats here in these forums.A good prosciutto takes 2 years to cure.So if you're unsure about canned goods...especially meats,curing is a good alternative to look into.Especially seeing as its almost a 'lost art' since refridgeration was commercially available only 100 years ago (give or take some years).  ;)

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2012, 02:30:33 AM »
From what I gather,canned goods are as good as the condition of the can itself. There will be 'taste' degridation...but nutritional value should remain the same. If thought about in the most realistic way, any nutrients canned should be there till uncanned...but tatse is for the 'buds'. I cant see canned goods loosing nutrition. If it was canned with X nutritions...where would they go? 

All that I've been taught and have read over the years insist otherwise.  Nutrients dissolve along with the taste.  It's basically the same processes that affect both.

Canned goods begin to loose nutrients the moment they are processed, and continue to loose over time.  After a certain length of time, all that's left is basically roughage.  More fragile nutrients go first, complex compounds and enzymes.  Then vitamins, and the very last is minerals, which generally just leach out of the food into the canning liquid. 

Where do the enzymes and vitamins go?  They break up into the simple elements they were made with. 

I'm told that dehydrated foods do this as well, albeit at a much slower rate.  Freeze dried has by far the best longevity, retaining the vast majority of the "fresh picked" nutrients for many years. 

~TG
 

Offline Jim5x5

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2012, 10:24:26 AM »
I've eaten soups and vegy's up to 4 years past their date with no problems. Just give it a good smell first.

Offline Cytic

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2012, 04:35:18 AM »
I've eaten soups and vegy's up to 4 years past their date with no problems. Just give it a good smell first.

I have had the same experience. I ate a can of Mrs. Fearnow's Brunswick Stew earlier this year that had a date of summer 2008. I smelled it and all seemed to be fine. The texture was a little bit different but it tasted fine and I had no problem.

Offline Kagetsu

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Re: Canned food that has expired ?
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2012, 06:47:34 PM »
 :P As most life expectancy things,,, it's about litigation against the rules.  They follow the gov.aprv standard,,, they can say expiration date X. Nothing is ever hard n fast, especially food. Everything you eat, you accept the ods.  :-\