Asked on Mar 8, 2013


KMS WoodworksBecky (J) PJeanette S


I'm interested in your thoughts as far as how long food in cans will stay safe to eat? Do you pay attention to "expiration, use by, best by" dates? When I was younger I don't recall paying any attention unless a can was bulging or leaking. That was obviously not used and tossed. I've had people say that those dates are a marketing ploy to have you buy more.
5 answers
  • A lot depends on packaging - if vacuumed sealed many products can last for decades, the main issue revolves around a loss of freshness & flavor. Some metal cans with acidic foods can leach the metal taste For common expiration dates:

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 9, 2013

    This also depends on the product. I recently picked up some "emergency" back up food stores to have on hand. The bulk of these items are dried meals and ingredients that have a 25 year shelf live when un-opened and a 1 year open life. Most "fresh" canned goods have "best by" or some other type of indication. Just like some OTC medications these items have dates. This date is not hard and fast and results in an on / off switch, that before the date it is good and after the date it is bad. The item may degrade as a curve of effectiveness for medicinal or flavor for food items. When I was growing up my grandparents home canned a lot of food from their garden. some of these items would easily last 3-4 years hidden away in the dark of the root cellar. UV light and higher temps reduce storage times

  • Jeanette S
    on Mar 10, 2013

    KMS is right about home canned goods. And years ago the average home did not have the amount of food on hand that we have today. We do not hoard food, but we have to be prepared because of the power outages we get from ice storms and tornadoes! I just try to buy the cans with the longest "best sell by" dates. I am not real picky about dates, but the tomatoes on sale at Kroger were dated May 2013 so I only bought about a dozen cans (we use a lot of tomatoes so they will be gone by May...or soon thereafter). I would have loved to have bought 2 dozen cans, but did not. Whole tomatoes heated with a little salt is a desert to me! HA!

  • Becky (J) P
    on Mar 10, 2013

    my experience with "past dated" food is this.....made a box cake mix and didn't notice the date was old until I saw the cake wasn't rising. Also made Hamburger Helper recently, and had to throw it out because I didn't notice the date was old until AFTER I wasted a pound of hamburger. It tasted terrible. I kept putting making that box because it took 20 minutes compared to the 10, so it was 2 years old by the time I decided to make it. Also had a bad experience with old saltines. Guess the moral of my story is: I need to cook more often and use up what I have!

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 10, 2013

    There is a market about 30-40 miles form me that a few of my clients told me about. They call it the "discount market". A good portion of the food there is old stock that they get from other markets. Most of it is about 1/2 price or more off the regular price I see in my local market. The reason is the bulk of these food containers are past the "sell by" date. for some items it may only be a few weeks others a few months. But depending on the item these things still have a lot of potential. I picked up a bag of "pirate booty" for about 75 cents...this normally runs about 2.50 to 3 bucks a bag. It is puffy rice with cheese or other flavors mixed in. My girls ate it with no complaints.

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