View Full Version : Canned Goods: How long do they last?

Deadly Sushi
07-22-2009, 12:50 PM
I have oysters in a can. How long do they last while in a unopened can?

smoke king
07-22-2009, 01:22 PM
I'd like to tell you indefinately DS, but as one who gives himself food poisoning on a pretty regular basis, you may want to check with someone else!

07-22-2009, 01:37 PM
We are in hurricane territory, so we keep survival supplies on hand just in case. I heard a local talk show discussion about survival supplies, and the expert (can't remember who it was now) recommended keeping canned goods for one year. HTH.

07-22-2009, 01:48 PM
We're also in hurricane territory, so we have to deal with this every year. :umbrella:Most cans now have dates stamped on the end. Many of those dates are 2 or 3 years out. I have a lot of stuff here that says 2011 or 2012 or even 2013 on the end of the can. So it really will last for several years if the can isn't damaged.

However, if there is ANY bulging or leaking of the can, throw it out! Especially watch for bulging - where the can seems to have lost its 'indentedness'.

07-22-2009, 02:45 PM
I agree with that SS if a can is bulging, dented or showing signs of rust toss it out.

07-22-2009, 06:04 PM

07-22-2009, 06:10 PM
Most things have dates nowadays. I went through the pantry not long ago, and threw out anything out of date or without a date...

07-22-2009, 06:20 PM
The Mayo Clinic's nutritionist (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/canned-food/AN01522) offers this advice:Question

Canned food: How long can you safely keep it?

How long can you safely keep canned food?


from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Commercially prepared canned food has a fairly long shelf life, as long as it's stored properly. How long you can safely keep canned food depends on the type of food. According to the Department of Agriculture:

High-acid foods — such as tomatoes, fruit and fruit juice — can be stored for up to 18 months
Low-acid foods — such as vegetables and meat — can be stored for two to five years

When you're shopping for canned food, examine the containers. Don't buy canned products that are dented, leaking or bulging, or those that show any signs of tampering.

At home, store canned food in a cool, dry place. Avoid cabinets over the stove, under the sink, or in a damp basement or garage.

When you're preparing canned food, check the expiration date on the label to be assured of freshness. It's also a good idea to clean the top of the container before you open it. If the container spurts liquid or foam when you open it or the food has a foul odor, don't eat it. Simply throw the container and the food away.

07-22-2009, 06:23 PM
I agree with that SS if a can is bulging, dented or showing signs of rust toss it out.


I worked as a supervisor in a cannery while waiting to start my military career and saw this frequently. If the ends are bulging, take them back and get replacements.

07-22-2009, 06:24 PM
And the USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/help/FAQs_Hotline_Preparation/index.asp#10) says this:
Are canned goods still safe after a year? Two years? Longer?

Store canned foods and other shelf stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes. Store high acid foods such as tomatoes and other fruit up to 18 months; low acid foods such as meat and vegetables, 2 to 5 years.

Canned meat and poultry will keep at best quality 2 to 5 years if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, dry place.

While extremely rare, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the worst danger in canned goods. NEVER USE food from containers that show possible "botulism" warnings: leaking, bulging, or badly dented cans; cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids; canned food with a foul odor; or any container that spurts liquid when opening. DON'T TASTE SUCH FOOD! Even a minuscule amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly.

Can linings might discolor or corrode when metal reacts with high-acid foods such as tomatoes or pineapple. As long as the can is in good shape, the contents should be safe to eat, although the taste, texture and nutritional value of the food can diminish over time.

07-22-2009, 10:09 PM
If the can looks good and when you open it, the stuff inside looks/smells the way it ought to, then you should be okay (but note FryBoy's comments about toxins). If it looks like the contents have broken down even an iota, chuck it. Also check for the weight of a can. Sometimes the can may look perfect but feels lighter that it should. (Happened to me once.) Check for leaks, even going so far as to fully submerge the can in a bowl of water. Any air bubbles and you have a leak. Ditch.

It was only a few years ago that they discovered cans in a bomb shelter from WW2 and the contents were perfect.

Don't forget that use by dates should be seen as guides only. They are there for legal reasons as well as health ones. (And if you are a bit cynical, marketing reasons as well!) And they use statistical data to formulate them.

Deadly Sushi
07-23-2009, 01:46 AM
excellent info folks!!! I guess I told someone the wrong thing. I said it was good for at least 5 years. I was way off.