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Thread: Shelf life of canned goods?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
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    Shelf life of canned goods?

    Hi all,

    Does anyone here have an idea of what the shelf-life of canned fruits and vegetables is? I noticed some cans of peaches (as an example) in my pantry that have to be several years old*. I'm assuming canned goods don't have an indefinite shelf life, but I've searched and can't find any guidelines.

    *(I'd open them to check, but I'm afraid of what I might find. )
    ************
    --Anthony Ragan
    irishspy@ gmail .com
    "Fear? I fear nothing. I'm terrified of everything."
    Harry T. Cat, in memoriam, 1983-2001

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    NashVegas, baby!
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    Theoretically, as long as the can is not dented or swollen or otherwise damaged, they are safe indefinitely. The quality may not be what you'd prefer, but I've certainly eaten canned fruit more than 2 years old and not found anything to complain about.

    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/a2z-s.html#shelfstable

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    IL
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    Call the manufacturer and ask them. Even if there are no expiry dates, they should have a lot/code on them and they can tell you how old they are. I used to do this before expiry dates made it easier.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Los Angeles
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    Quote Originally Posted by funniegrrl
    Theoretically, as long as the can is not dented or swollen or otherwise damaged, they are safe indefinitely. The quality may not be what you'd prefer, but I've certainly eaten canned fruit more than 2 years old and not found anything to complain about.

    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/a2z-s.html#shelfstable
    A-ha! Thank you for the link.
    ************
    --Anthony Ragan
    irishspy@ gmail .com
    "Fear? I fear nothing. I'm terrified of everything."
    Harry T. Cat, in memoriam, 1983-2001

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    South Lake Tahoe, CA
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    3,256
    This suggestion won't help you with your current problem, but perhaps it will be useful in the future.

    I find it helpful to date cans, bottled goods and packages before putting them in the cabinet or pantry. I then make a point to use them up as appropriate. If they seem to be getting rather old (for example a can of fruit over two years old), I put them on the counter until I use them up. I started this when I was participating in a family cabin with multiple cooks and occupied only in the summer, but found it so helpful that I have used it ever since for my own kitchen.

    Kay

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    7,938
    Here is some information that might be helpful to you.

    Canned Food, Shelf Life

    One of the most frequently asked questions about canned food is its shelf life and "use-by" dates. The codes that are stamped on canned food are manufacturers' codes that usually designate the date the product was packaged. The codes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and usually include coding for time and place of canning. Most manufacturers offer a toll-free number to call for questions about canned food expiration dates. For a sampling of how to read product codes, See Below.

    Remember, the code stamped on the can is when it was packaged. The general rule of thumb is that canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of purchase. It is recommended that all canned food be stored in moderate temperatures (75 F and below).

    Many canned products now have a "for best quality use by" date stamped on the top or bottom of the can. "Expiration" dates are rarely found on canned food.

    Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing. Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color and texture. Canning is a high-heat process that renders the food commercially sterile. Food safety is not an issue in products kept on the shelf or in the pantry for long periods of time. In fact, canned food has an almost indefinite shelf life at moderate temperatures (75 F and below). Canned food as old as 100 years has been found in sunken ships and it is still microbiologically safe! We don't recommend keeping canned food for 100 years, but if the can is intact, not dented or bulging, it is edible.

    In a well-run supermarket, foods on the shelf will be rotated on a regular basis, so there is continuous turnover. Each canned food manufacturer has a unique coding system. Some manufacturers list day, month and year of production, while other companies reference only the year. These codes are usually imprinted on the top or bottom of the can. Other numbers may appear and reference the specific plant manufacturing or product information and are not useful to consumers. Below is a sampling of how some manufacturers code their products so consumers know when the product was packaged. If you have specific questions about a company's product, contact a customer service representative at the phone number listed.

    Note: For month coding, if a number is used, numbers 1 through 9 represent January through September, and letters O for October, N for November and D for December. If letters are used, A=Jan. and L=Dec., unless otherwise noted.

    Note: For year coding, 8=1998; 9=1999; 0=2000; 1=2001; 2=2002, etc.

    Bush Brothers & Company (voice: 865/509-2361)
    Four digits
    Position 1: Month
    Position 2 and 3: Day
    Position 4: Year
    Example: 2061 (February 6, 2001)

    Chiquita Processed Foods (voice: 800/872-1110)
    Ten digits (only 6-8 are pertinent to consumers)
    Position 6: Year (A=1999, B=2000, C=2001, etc.)
    Position 7 and 8: Julian Date
    Example: A195 (July 14, 1999- July 14 is the 195th day of the year)

    Del Monte Foods (voice: 800/543-3090)
    First line, four digits
    Position 1: Year
    Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
    Example: 9045 (February 14, 1999)

    Faribault Foods
    Consumers can send inquiries and product coding numbers via an online contact form, and a company representative will help them understand the coding. www.faribaultfoods.com

    Furman Foods (voice: 877/877-6032)
    Second line, first four digits
    Position 1: Year
    Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
    Example: 9045 (February 14, 1999)

    Hirzel Canning (voice: 800/837-1631)
    First line, four digits
    Position 1: Year
    Position 2, 3 and 4: Julian Date
    Example: 0195 (July 14, 2000- July 14th is the 195th day of the year)

    Hormel Foods Corporation (voice: 800/523-4635)
    Five digits on the top line
    Position 1-4: Information about plant and manufacturing
    Position 5: Year
    Example: XXXX0 (2000)

    Lakeside Foods (voice: 920/684-3356)
    Second line, second through fifth digits
    Position 2: Month (Jan=1, Sept.=9, Oct.=A, Nov.=B, Dec.=C)
    Position 3 and 4: Date
    Position 5: Year
    Example: 4A198 (October 19, 1998)

    Maple Leaf Consumer Foods (voice: 800/268-3708)
    Top of can, grouping of last four digits
    Position 1: Year
    Position 2,3, and 4: Julian Date
    Example: 9130 (May 9, 1999)

    Mid-Atlantic Foods (voice: 410/957-4100)
    Second through fourth digits
    Position 2: Month (letter)
    Position 3: Date (A=1, Z=26)
    Position 4: Year
    Example: MDE0 (April 5, 2000)

    Pillsbury/Green Giant and Progresso (voice: 800/998-9996)
    Five digits
    Position 1: Month (letter)
    Position 2: Year
    Position 3: Plant information
    Position 4 and 5: Date
    Example: G8A08 (July 8, 1998)

    Seneca Foods (voice: 315/926-6710)
    Two digits on the first line
    Position 1: Month (letter)
    Position 2: Year
    Example: L1 (December 2001)

    Stagg Chili (voice: 800/611-9778)
    Second through sixth digits
    Position 2 and 3: Month
    Position 4 and 5: Day
    Position 6: Year
    Example: S02050 (February 5, 2000)

    "Information provided by the Canned Food Alliance. For hundreds of nutritious, delicious, easy recipes that use canned food, visit www.mealtime.org ."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Heading WEST!!
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    15,329
    If it isn't leaking and doesn't explode when you open it, I figure it's safe
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

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