General Question

ninja_man's avatar

Can canned food expire?

Asked by ninja_man (1133points) June 22nd, 2010

Should I take the ‘Use by’ labels on some old canned goods (tuna, soup, peaches) seriously? Or are they more for retail rotation purposes? Note: none of them are more than 5 years out of date.

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12 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Take it very seriously. I have had cans swell and explode after they sat on the shelf for a year or two.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Take them seriously. Is your life really worth risking on whether or not the stuff is still good after the expiration date?

The method of canning and the item canned make a big difference in how long a product can be safely stored.

ragingloli's avatar

Oh yes. You do not want to mess with salmonella or other types of food poisoning. Especially from meat and fish products, it can literally kill you. And 5 years is a clear “handle with hazmat suit” sign.
A minimum expiration date signifies the date until food can be consumed without any detrimental changes to the food in terms of appearance, taste or edibility. You can use it for up to a week after the date without a problem.
A “use by” date however is a different story. It really means, “use by this date”, because after that, it becomes dangerous to consume.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m outnumbered here. I figure unless the can is swollen and the food smells the same as usual, I’m eating it. Especially if I have to cook it.

ragingloli's avatar

It is not just microbes and bacteria you have to worry about and that will be killed by cooking, but primarily the toxins they produce that will not be destroyed by cooking the food.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If the can is only a week or two expired, you are probably safe. But if it has been an extended period, why take the chance. Canned food is cheap, a hospital stay is not.

tedibear's avatar

@ragingloli beat me to it. Botulism ain’t no fun!

Cruiser's avatar

Generally speaking if the can is intact, not dented, doesn’t pop or fizz when opened AND smells OK, you should be fine. Anything over 2 years expiration date toss no matter what. Botulism kills!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ragingloli @tedibear
But that’s why we look for the bulge in the can. I still go with the 3 basic rules:
A bulging lid or leaking container
Hissing or spurting when opening the can
Odor or mold.
If you have any of those, toss it. Otherwise chow down.
I hate wasting food.

Dollyy's avatar

No way it wont ..

Cruiser's avatar

Fun facts from the FDA…

“With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label. FDA does not require food firms to place “expired by”, “use by” or “best before” dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.”

“In general, high-acid canned foods such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple can be stored on the shelf 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years — if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, dry place.

FDA food dating FAQ’s here

Berserker's avatar

It sure can. I once opened a can of vegetable soup with those alphabet noodles, and what was within was this gray, sludgy…sludge. It didn’t smell like anything, but it sure wasn’t normal.
I denno if maybe there was a hole in the can somewhere or it wasn’t properly sealed or what, but it sure did expire.

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