Canned Food Expiration

I have heard that canned food is good beyond the printed expiration date on it. Does anyone have any experience with that or information on how long canned food can keep beyond its expiration date?



  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 685 ✭✭✭✭

    My experience is that the "best by/sell by/use by " date doesn't really mean much. It's supposed to mean to use the food by that date to get it at its best quality--it's still edible after that date, just might not be as flavorful or nutritious. I wonder if the dates even mean that much. I judge can by can--smell, taste, color and such of the contents of each individual can, I've used canned corn and peas a year or more after the "best by" date and they were fine. Tomatoes a year after can taste tinny, probably the acid working on the can. On the other hand, a can of fruit--peaches if I remember rightly-- once went bad and blew up in the pantry, and it was only a month or so past its "best by" date. I doubt any general rule will work; too many variables.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    @MaryRowe I find it ridiculous for some of the expiration dates. Water in a glass bottle will never "expire" Salt that is mined from the earth is already thousands of years old. Why does it suddenly have an expration date?? At least with the "Best By" dates there is an opinion involved. I bet those peaches that exploded the can were bad long before the can exploded.

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 IdahoPosts: 343 ✭✭✭

    in my experience the dates on canned items are just to keep the food industry going. there are some things however that will loose thier flavor if kept for 3 or 4 years past the experation date. the thing i learned about experation dates is especually in food items is for example anything in a plastic bag in a box if kept for a long period of time will taste like the plastic. so if I'm buying crackers then i take them out of the plastic package and put them in wide mouth jars and vacumm seal them.

  • monica197
    monica197 Posts: 1,186 ✭✭✭✭✭

    All of this is SUPER helpful!!!!

  • Tave
    Tave Moderator In the AndesPosts: 886 admin

    A seller on Amazon responded to a question about the expiration date on bentonite clay. It's dirt. It's already millions of years old. The expiration date is required by law and has nothing to do with the quality of the clay. While canned food won't last as long as dirt, it should survive the expiration date.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,652 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @tilathehunn Food in cans that can hurt people could hurt your dogs too. You wouldn't want to chance hurting such good looking beasts.

    Any of my canned food near/slightly past best by date is opened and contents dumped into a glass measuring cup. I inspect and smell the food, plus I inspect the can before any contents are consumed.

    I had diced green chilies in cans that went bad well before the stamped date.

    In reality, we should be inspecting all food products before we eat it.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Moderator Posts: 870 admin

    @nksunshine27 @Tave I agree with you. It’s just industry, consumerism: throw away good things and good food and give space to producing more at the cost of nature, causing more pollution, unnecessary rubbish.

    We have our senses to know what is good and what is already bad. But, I have to admit, I try to avoid buying anything in tin cans. I prefer jars. And I prefer either self made canned food or fresh one.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Moderator Posts: 870 admin

    @tilathehunn beautiful dogs 😊😍

  • Tave
    Tave Moderator In the AndesPosts: 886 admin

    @jolanta.wittib I agree. I rarely buy food in cans.

  • Thomas
    Thomas Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    I agree with @tomandcara ; most canned food now-a-days comes in lined cans, which leaches (eventually) into the foodstuffs.

    If it was an emergency I would eat it, if it wasn't, I try to eat it by the right date.

    I prefer to can, but sometimes you run short of a needed ingredient, and you have to get the store bought stuff.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    Welcome to the Grow Network @Thomas . What are the foods you can?

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 259 ✭✭✭

    @monica197 Some good tips here. I have a food dehydrator and put a batch of food or herbs to dry in it now and then in the summer. I pack up the dried foods into large zip lock bags, and place in a cool, dark, mouse proof container. Dried foods will last a long time. Even better is the freeze dried foods which can last for 20 years. Food drying can be done in flexible, low tech way.

  • Elizabeth Voss
    Elizabeth Voss Posts: 58 ✭✭✭

    my gross out scale tells me - won’t open if its a few years out of date or the can has bulged - if that passes I’ll open and use eyes and nose and taste - has worked so far and I can be prone to GI. Has anyone tried dousing? The body knows - that’s th idea. If food (or vitamins, too) are placed against your stomach, your body will sway away if it is not healthy for you but sway forward if not unhealthy. Use it for food int he fridge.

  • Tave
    Tave Moderator In the AndesPosts: 886 admin

    Because of having little space, I dry a lot of food, too, then keep it in mouse-proof containers. I don't have a dehydrator, but right at the best time to preserve food for the winter, the rains dry up, and it becomes quite arid. I put it on screens and air-dry everything (tomatoes, sliced garlic and onions, green beans, and celery).

  • monica197
    monica197 Posts: 1,186 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I too am constantly dehydrating foods. It does save space and bypasses the can!

    I have found that in the midst of all that is going on, I have bought some canned foods - meat in particular - just so that I have some protein on the shelf. I typically never eat canned foods and if I do eat off the shelf, it is what I have canned myself. It is because of my lack of familiarity with the canned foods these days that I thought I would ask.

    That being said, many mention dehydrators - out of curiosity, what dehydrators have you all found to be best?

    I appreciate all of the awesome advice and suggestions - this forums is so very helpful!!!

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Moderator Posts: 870 admin

    @Elizabeth Voss how interesting! Never heard of dousing

  • Slippy
    Slippy Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    We use a 3 Bin system for our canned foods based on the "Best Used By Date" and rotate accordingly. We only buy food that we eat regularly and mostly eat store bought canned food in the winter months.

    Usually we eat the canned item at or near the Date but every once in a while one gets by our rotation system. If there is any foul smell or off color to the product, we toss it. If memory serves, we've eaten good product 2 years past the Best Used By Date.

    PS @tilathehunn GREAT LOOKING DOGS! And well trained from what I see from the pic! AWESOME!

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 259 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    @monica197 I replied on the new "Setup For Dehydration" thread.

  • LaurieRogers
    LaurieRogers Posts: 1
    edited December 2020

    My motto is - if it doesn't look, smell or taste bad/weird it's okay.

  • Barbara Roberts
    Barbara Roberts Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    Elizabeth Moss

    I believe the correct spelling of that word is "dowsing" and you do have to be careful with it. I use it a lot but I sometimes switch off and swaying backwards is a "Yes" for me and forwards is a "No." So I just ask a question before I test such as "My name is Barbara" (something I know to be true for me) and watch which way I go. If you happen to switch off too, you could be in serious trouble.

    You also don't absolutely need to hold it against your solar plexus (stomach basically) when you ask, although that is a good idea. It's your intention that works here and all things have a frequency or vibration which your body picks up and tests against your body's frequency to see if it is compatible.

    Dowsers are best known for "water witching" or finding water in the ground using a forked stick. That absolutely works and the stick will bend when you come over water. However, if you are searching for where to drill a well, it may find ground or surface water instead of the deep water you want. But it's a very useful way to determine what foods or supplements are best for your body at any one particular time in your life. Check your "yes" answer every time you ask, or every other time, to be certain of your plan.

  • DurwardPless
    DurwardPless Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    We have two grocery stores nearby that have several isles devoted to selling outdated items. I would examine everything carefully before buying and consuming. At regular grocery stores, I have seen crushed cans on sale that were leaking. With GMOs, pesticides, prescription drugs that cause cancer, etc., I wonder if we have much protection?


  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 680 ✭✭✭✭

    Unfortunately, I opened a tin of anchovies while I was house sitting that was in the cupboard. It was from an other country and I couldn't read the writing, but it didn't seem right, so I threw it out. The unfortunate part was that their cat found a way into the trash and ate it. The neighbors said the cat walked into their house and died.

    Generally, we eat items past the expiration date using common sense, but the cat is always in the back of my mind.

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 259 ✭✭✭

    I am wondering how to tell how old canned goods are and what is known about the liners. If plastic is used what is it? When does it break down?

  • Thunderone2
    Thunderone2 Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    For the most part I've ignored the use by dates. Some items do in fact lose their flavor, but so far have never had any problems of getting ill. I even had/have some ration items that I brought back from Vietnam 68-69, which many of my friends and I have devoured without any ill effects. Bulging cans or bad smells - do get tossed. It seems that the acidic foods like tomatoes cause short life of foods.

    Living in a single parent home (my dad died young), my mother use to work for campbell soup, we ate a lot of bulging canned foods, many which had been around for years? I guess my gut got use to bad food!?!?

    Anything that we can - is with glass jars. Check the looks, check the lid and when in doubt - check the smell.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 392 ✭✭✭

    Something we have always done with older can is dump the contents into a glass bowl then examine contents & can liner. If it looks, smells, or tastes funny out it goes.

  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 925 ✭✭✭✭

    I think the reason that they list an expiration date is mostly to avoid lawsuits if someone were to wind up ill. However I have eaten canned goods that have been 2 years expired and so far never had a problem. I check for rust and dings and if there are none I open and then smell and examine the contents. If it smells as it should and looks good I heat it well, sometimes boil it for a few minutes and then eat.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    I buy expired food frequently from salvage stores and all is usually well.

    The one caution I would use is with any nut based item like granola, peanut butter, or nuts in general- they are usually bad semi close to their expiration date and they taste like boars meat when they go bad😑.

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