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Thread: Canned foods: how long do they REALLY last?

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    Cart-mod 2.0 Global Moderator Cartesiantheater's Avatar
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    Canned foods: how long do they REALLY last?

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    Usually they'll have an expiration date of 1, 2, ..., 5 years.


    But clearly in an age of lawsuits, manufacturers would be wise to give expiration dates that are sooner than their real expiration.

    Not to mention a shorter expiration = more food thrown out = more food purchased.




    So, based on your living experiences, how long do canned foods really last? Feel free to distinguish between types, since clearly some canned foods last longer than others.




    * the relevance to Armageddon & Disasters should be obvious.
    "I was put on trial twice near Y2K for acting like Jesus and claiming to be the Messiah. Its not everyday that a man parks a Chariot of Fire in front of a tomb and stands against the US government with a bow and razor tipped arrows over his shoulder. I wore a suit of armor and was protected by an invisible bubble and my sharp tongue was more than the judicial system could handle."Jake
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    DIE! By my hand! Administrator MetalMilitia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cartesiantheater View Post
    * the relevance to Armageddon & Disasters should be obvious.
    That's a cute way of calling me lazy for not adding a survival + preparation forum / subforum yet isn't it :)

    I just checked a few cans of soup I bought last week. One example : cream of mushroom, expires Jan 27, 2012. So if something bad does happen dec. 21st, and I survive, we all know what I'll be making : MOAR HOTDISH!

    In fact most of these are labeled 2012.... the question mark would be answered after one bite lol. Either MMMMM tastes normal... or BLEH ZOMG THIS IS TERRIBLE. Another factor would be how it's kept / stored, I imagine that effects everything drastically on how long it would really last.

    Most places say 1 year, some say up to 2 years.

    How do you determine how long a can of food
    will last? Actually, it's kind of hard to guess, but here are a few guidelines when trying to determine the shelf life of your canned foods:

    Home-canned foods Most sources say that home-canned foods will store safely for at least one year.

    With other food items
    , the level of acid in the food is the critical element for determining how long it may store. Low-acid foods last longer on your shelves than foods with higher amounts of acid. Some sources say all commercially canned food should last at least two years. Here are some more specific recommendations:

    Low-acidic foods Surprising to some, canned meats can last the longest. Most sources say they will keep for 2 to 5 years. Some sources say they will last even longer. I found a shocking story about a can of meat that was 118 years old. It was opened, analyzed, and found to still have most of the nutrients. It was still good after more than 100 years! You may not choose to eat canned meats that are this old, but likely yours will last more than the recommended five years. Other low-acid foods are soups without tomatoes, carrots
    , potatoes, pumpkin, and peas.

    High-acidic foods For best quality, use high-acidic foods within one year or so. Foods in this category are tomatoes, fruit, and foods with a lot of vinegar in them. Still, many of these canned foods will still be edible after years worth of storage, even if they are not at the peak of quality and nutrition.

    So what does it mean when we learn that something will last "at least two years?" How long will it last after the two years is over? Again, this depends on who you ask. Some people will say that you should discard the cans at this point, but most will tell you that canned foods can last for a lot longer, even years and years longer. You'll just have to use your own discretion and inspect your cans carefully before eating the food inside. Read the next article in the canned food series, "Canned Food Storage Safety" to know what to look for when inspecting cans for safety.
    Would you really wanna eat 5 year old meat though and trust it? I guess yes - if that's all ya got, that's what ya eat.
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    Survivalist! Abyssal_Worm's Avatar
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    Depends upon the product, what method of canning was involved, and how it has been stored.

    Working a grocery store, I can tell you that most expiration dates are determined on a pessimistic approach. This is done so that if someone eats their products when it is close to the "expiration date" there is a significantly reduced likelihood that they will become sick due to the food. It varied from product to product, but I have opened up some canned goods that were more than a year beyond the expiration date and the food was still good.

    Goods that are stored in a cool and dry environment are more likely to hold up for long periods of time as opposed to hot and moist areas. This is why many farmers tend to keep a pantry in the basement of their home.

    Jars are always better than cans. Why? Because glass does not break down when exposed to the preserving agents in canned foods. Tin cans will eventually rust or have a reaction to the preserving agents which can lead to spoilage of food. If at all possible, by it in a jar. Just remember to avoid leaving it out where it can be hit by sunlight. Sunlight will speed up the process of breaking down the preserving agents.

    DO NOT RELY UPON THE CORPORATE DATE MARKS! If you are going to buy several of any item at one time, mark the top of the product with a color coded system that can easily identify when the product is due to "expire." Working at a grocery store, I have found that when you have a sea of cans each with their own date expiration, mistakes will accidentally occur. Make life easier on yourself and label each item with a system of your choice that is easy to read. Those little colored stickers you often see marking items at a yard sale are an excellent choice as they stand out very well on the canned goods. Just remember to use colors that clash against the product's label. Neon green is still difficult to spot against green. Blue against yellow is easy to spot.

    Another reason to mark the date yourself if because not all corporations mark their products in the same place. Most can be found stamped on the top, others can be found on the bottom, some on the lid, some below the nutritional information...you get the idea. Make it easy on yourself and take the time to mark it so that it can be spotted easily in the same place on each item in your cache.
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    Survivalist! Abyssal_Worm's Avatar
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    A helpful resource in understanding dates on food...

    http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftjan05.htm

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/...ting/index.asp

    Types of Dates
    A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
    A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
    A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
    "Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.
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    Falling to Resurrection iulian28ti's Avatar
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    I opened a 5 year old pineapple can and ate it. One week ago. And i'm fine.
    The warranty was : 1 year.

    I opened a 3 month old bean jar, and threw it away. There was some sort of monster in it.
    The warranty was : 1 year.

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    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    You could always Can (Jar it) your own food. It has become a lost art in the world.

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    Iam puppy, hear me yap. Global Moderator lycanox's Avatar
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    This completely depents on the quality of the batch. Storing conditions and what kind of product is being stored.

    A can of honey for example can be ripped out of the hands of a mummy you just found in that 4000 year old tomb. And it will still be edible.

    I cant give a exact date. But aslong you familirize yourself with the sympthoms food may display if spoiled. Food can be safely consumed decades after production.
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  8. #8
    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lycanox View Post
    This completely depents on the quality of the batch. Storing conditions and what kind of product is being stored.

    A can of honey for example can be ripped out of the hands of a mummy you just found in that 4000 year old tomb. And it will still be edible.

    I cant give a exact date. But aslong you familirize yourself with the sympthoms food may display if spoiled. Food can be safely consumed decades after production.
    BULLSHIT. Please provide a case (link) where a mummy was found with a can of honey.

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    GEAUX SAINTS! Contributor pico's Avatar
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    Lyc is right, as honey lasts for thousands of years. While it was not canned, it was in a jar and the archeologist sampled some and found it still good... but that is honey, not canned soup.

    Canned soup will last well beyond the printed label. I forget the rough count, as far as years go, but this was discussed at some length over on www.survivalblog.com a year or so past. I'll check it out and post what I find, but I am guessing several years at most. This is why preppers buy freeze dried food in addition to canned soups and beans when planning, as the canned stuff will not last too long. The freeze dried stuff is guaranteed for 25-30 years depending on brand.
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    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pico View Post
    Lyc is right, as honey lasts for thousands of years. While it was not canned, it was in a jar and the archeologist sampled some and found it still good... but that is honey, not canned soup.

    Canned soup will last well beyond the printed label. I forget the rough count, as far as years go, but this was discussed at some length over on www.survivalblog.com a year or so past. I'll check it out and post what I find, but I am guessing several years at most. This is why preppers buy freeze dried food in addition to canned soups and beans when planning, as the canned stuff will not last too long. The freeze dried stuff is guaranteed for 25-30 years depending on brand.
    So where is the link that the can, oh excue me, JAR of honey was found in the hands of a 4000 year old mummy? Pics please.

  11. #11
    GEAUX SAINTS! Contributor pico's Avatar
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    Can't say it was found in the mummy's hands, but it has been found in the tombs.

    Here is a quick bit I found in 10 seconds of searching on google with the phrase honey found in egyptian tomb

    Expiration Date for Honey

    Honey is a miracle food; it never goes bad. It was reported that archaeologists found 2000 year old jars of honey in Egyptian tombs and they still tasted delicious! Many people find it rather surprising that bacteria cannot grow in honey because all things being equal, bacteria loves sugar. The unique chemical composition of low water content and relatively high acidic level in honey creates a low pH (3.2-4.5) environment that makes it very unfavourable for bacteria or other micro-organism to grow. Thus, "Best Before Dates" on honey buckets indicating honey shelf life do not seem to be very important after all. For more information on why shelf life is stated on the honey bottles in the shop and how to best store honey, read: Honey Storage Tips.
    Here is a link discussing how archaeologists found honey in a tomb... you need to read down a bit
    http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/yuyat.htm
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    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pico View Post
    Can't say it was found in the mummy's hands, but it has been found in the tombs.

    Here is a quick bit I found in 10 seconds of searching on google with the phrase honey found in egyptian tomb



    Here is a link discussing how archaeologists found honey in a tomb... you need to read down a bit
    http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/yuyat.htm
    2000 years? Where's an article about 4000!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!! 2000 year difference is pretty drastic. Still waiting for it being found in the mummy's hands.

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    Cart-mod 2.0 Global Moderator Cartesiantheater's Avatar
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    Yeah, but if you can't LIVE off of honey, what difference does it make?

    Because, you know, our ancestors, after we destroy the world with massive nuclear winters PLUS natural disasters like space debris knocking craters into the planet, will have to survive on very little naturally found food, since the sun will be blotted out, causing chain reaction extinctions.



    Freeze dried and jarred is better, you say? How do you make an airtight seal with a jar when the lid is just screwed on?

    What about things like beef jerky? How long does that last?
    "I was put on trial twice near Y2K for acting like Jesus and claiming to be the Messiah. Its not everyday that a man parks a Chariot of Fire in front of a tomb and stands against the US government with a bow and razor tipped arrows over his shoulder. I wore a suit of armor and was protected by an invisible bubble and my sharp tongue was more than the judicial system could handle."Jake
    "The toilet is more than a throne. It is a sacred chamber."-Anton LaVey, High Priest of Satanism

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    Iam puppy, hear me yap. Global Moderator lycanox's Avatar
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    I was stating a example of what scientifically could happen. Not that it did.

    Either a product slowly goes bad in a couple of years. Or it is in a stable condition and wont spoil at all. So if a product has been found in edible condition 2000 years after production. Its very safe to say that it will last another 2000 years if left undisturbed.

    I believe even Life after people has a segment on this.

    The reason Honey is so durable is because it contains lots of sugar. Which sucks any moisture right out of any cell unlucky to come in contact with.
    Only various types of fungus can colonize the product. But that requires contact with the open air and such fungus to be around.
    Last edited by lycanox; Jun 1st, 2010 at 3:17 PM.
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    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cartesiantheater View Post
    Yeah, but if you can't LIVE off of honey, what difference does it make?

    Because, you know, our ancestors, after we destroy the world with massive nuclear winters PLUS natural disasters like space debris knocking craters into the planet, will have to survive on very little naturally found food, since the sun will be blotted out, causing chain reaction extinctions.



    Freeze dried and jarred is better, you say? How do you make an airtight seal with a jar when the lid is just screwed on?

    What about things like beef jerky? How long does that last?
    Jars are cooked for several hours and it creates a seal with the ring on the lids. I am trying to remember from when i was a child.

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    GEAUX SAINTS! Contributor pico's Avatar
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    Yes, correct about the canning method using mason jars. As for freeze dried foods, they are usually put in #10 cans, which are fairly large, and have a metal lid just like a regular can of soup of vegetables.
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    Leader of the bomb shelter Seasoned Member PanamaGuy's Avatar
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    I sure hope jerky lasts, or I am screwed outta my favorite snack.

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    GEAUX SAINTS! Contributor pico's Avatar
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    Just don't go on an all protein diet with a lot of jerky, or you WILL get backed up in short order. I am not trying to be funny, but if you plan on eating a lot of meat, regardless of how it has been preserved, you need to probably put in a supply of laxatives. I have these on hand already for my medical reserves, and plan on eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. This will keep my system in check, as we all will need to stay in shape. Nothing is worse than a bad case of the trots except perhaps very slow plumbing.
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    Cart-mod 2.0 Global Moderator Cartesiantheater's Avatar
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    What about peanut butter? How long does that last?
    "I was put on trial twice near Y2K for acting like Jesus and claiming to be the Messiah. Its not everyday that a man parks a Chariot of Fire in front of a tomb and stands against the US government with a bow and razor tipped arrows over his shoulder. I wore a suit of armor and was protected by an invisible bubble and my sharp tongue was more than the judicial system could handle."Jake
    "The toilet is more than a throne. It is a sacred chamber."-Anton LaVey, High Priest of Satanism

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    ### of all Things Nuclear Ningishiddza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pico View Post
    Can't say it was found in the mummy's hands, but it has been found in the tombs.
    Correct. I've said this before. Honey never spoils or goes bad. For those who don't understand English, "never" means "at no time ever."

    They only thing honey will do is crystallize. You can eat the crystals (but I don't know how to reconstitute it).

    For any gash, laceration or gaping wound (like a gun-shot wound or compound fracture), poor some sugar on the wound, use honey to seal it and wrap it in the cleanest cloth you have. It's just high-school chemistry. For those in the "Me," the "Me and Myself" and the "Me, Myself and I" Generations, Sweet-n-Low, Equal and Splenda are not sugar.

    Canned goods will last over 100 years. There are documented cases of people finding and eating canned goods from the late 1800s. Canned goods from someone's expedition to the Arctic (or Antarctic I can't remember which) were found and examined by a laboratory. The food was good. The only "problem" mentioned was that lead solder was used to the seal the can (so the EPA would be frothing at the mouth over a perceived threat of um, lead-poisoning).

    Before eating a can of anything, regardless of its age, inspect it for protrusions. These will usually be on the top or bottom of the can. Again, basic high school chemistry. Bacteria will produce gases as they eat and the gases will cause the can to bulge (again, usually at the top or bottom -- ie the weakest places on the can).
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    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    Lycanox, still waiting for your proof.

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    Iam puppy, hear me yap. Global Moderator lycanox's Avatar
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    What proof. I was talking about a hypothetical scenario of what could happen when we open a 4000 year old tomb.

    And again. A product that does not decay in 2000 years has to be stable to survive that long. And thus could easily remain edible for another 2000 years if left undisturbed. So unless you have any arguments why a product should only spoil after 3000 years.
    I doubt the exact time is even relevant.



    They only thing honey will do is crystallize. You can eat the crystals (but I don't know how to reconstitute it).
    Slowly warming the product should remove the crystals.

    What about peanut butter? How long does that last?
    I dont know how long it will be edible. But being rich in oil. It should break down after a while. I think it can last a couple of years in optimal conditions. But not eternity.
    Last edited by lycanox; Jun 1st, 2010 at 3:35 PM.
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  23. #23
    Bull$hit Artist Contributor Blu-ray's Avatar
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    so you don't have evidence of a discovery of 4000 year old honey in a jar that was foun in the hand of a mummy. You stated it as a fact yet you have ZERO PROOF to back that shit up!

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    GEAUX SAINTS! Contributor pico's Avatar
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    Blu-Ray... watch the history channel, as this has been covered there. Honey is great stuff. While I think I would rather pack my gunshot wound with a modern clotting agent, I guess sugar would work well enough.
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    Iam puppy, hear me yap. Global Moderator lycanox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blu-ray View Post
    so you don't have evidence of a discovery of 4000 year old honey in a jar that was foun in the hand of a mummy. You stated it as a fact yet you have ZERO PROOF to back that shit up!
    I never stated it as a fact. Just as something that could happen.
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