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Thread: Canned food...how long are they good past the expiration date?

  1. #1
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    Default Canned food...how long are they good past the expiration date?

    Last year I decided to stock up a little bit on canned food thinking that the numbers on the cans were expiration dates, but rather were simply packing codes for the packing company.

    As it turns out some of the cans do have expiration dates, and some only the packaging codes without the expiration dates. Of course I assumed the lines I saw on the cans were expiration dates and didn't pay close attention.

    I called the packaging company and almost half of what I bought were packaged in 2005 (the ones with package codes only) which means they expired in 2008, the year that I bought these cans of food.

    So, right now I'm waiting for a call from the district store management about this (I'm hoping they will let me trade or work something out) and if they will not rectify the situation I'm stuck with expired canned food.

    My question is, is the food still ok to eat, is that date just for protection of the company and does the food actually lasts longer than the general two year expiration dates that are put on?

  2. #2
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    I am an ex vendor and can tell you items in vending machines are coded to make a higher turnover for the chip companies.)Purpose-to make more $$$) Case in point, vitners used to have no exp date,now it has a 3 month window,same stuff.As for store food,is it dry,vacuum packed,frozen? I have(won,t mention the brand)freeze dried food that's from the year 2000 scare(yea I was scared and stocked up) expired last year and have total confidence it's good for another 10 years.If you're really not sure open it up and smell it,if in doubt toss it,but I'm telling you foods are good for a lot longer than they say it is.

  3. #3
    mominohio Guest

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    I wouldn't risk it. I don't think it is worth getting sick over. I am a worry wart, so no way that I would eat it!
    Last edited by mominohio; July 2nd, 2009 at 06:32 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 24thchance View Post
    I am an ex vendor and can tell you items in vending machines are coded to make a higher turnover for the chip companies.)Purpose-to make more $$$) Case in point, vitners used to have no exp date,now it has a 3 month window,same stuff.As for store food,is it dry,vacuum packed,frozen? I have(won,t mention the brand)freeze dried food that's from the year 2000 scare(yea I was scared and stocked up) expired last year and have total confidence it's good for another 10 years.If you're really not sure open it up and smell it,if in doubt toss it,but I'm telling you foods are good for a lot longer than they say it is.


    This is food that's in a can, if it was vacuumed pack (great idea by the way), I wouldn't be so concerned.

  5. #5
    Michele93 Guest

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    If the can has any rust on it or is buldging no matter if it is expired or not, throw it away. Personally I wouldn't risk it if it is expired. Canned food is cheap and I think it is better to throw it out then get sick and take a trip to the ER.

  6. #6
    Shayna Guest

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    Also, a lot of this depends on the item that is in the can.

    BTW, canned foods are vacuum packed, by being sealed in the can -- the processing of the food is pressurized and so forth....

    Acid-based foods (ex. - tomatoes) last a shorter time in a can than low-acid foods (ex. - tuna).

    I too believe in safety first, but I have eaten a lot of canned foods of varying ages with no ill effects. If you want to post what you have, I'll see what information I can find for you.

  7. #7
    3kidzmom Guest

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    Anything more than 30 days past it's date, even in a vacuum sealed can, I wouldn't risk eating.

  8. #8
    millky Guest

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    I probably wouldn't do it but I'm the kind of person who won't eat things unless they're at least 5 days out from the use-by date, let alone after it

    But since it's canned food you might be OK just watch for some things:

    Like michele93 said, if the can is rusty or bulging, chuck it. Give the cans a shake, if it sounds sloppier inside than you would expect from whatever food it is, chuck. Likewise if anything sounds dried up/congealed when it shouldn't. Lastly open up and have a look/smell, if it's off you'll probably know as soon as you open it but still check for discolouration/disintegration of the food and so on.

  9. #9
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    My motto always has been "When in doubt, throw it out!" Wise words from my wise mom......
    "The God of Angel armies is always by my side!"~Chris Tomlin

  10. #10
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    If it is not rusting or bulging it should be ok. The expiration dates are for peak of taste and color.

  11. #11
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    Everything is coming with an expiration date nowadays... a lot of it it to protect the company. The expiration date on most cans is usually so short as to be very unreasonable. Canned food will last many years. In all my years I've only opened one can that had something bad in it and it was obvious. It was a can of sweetened milk and the can had a dent in it. I just tossed it out.

    If you live in a dry climate or are able to store your food in a place that is dry and cool, most things, no matter how packaged, will be good way beyond their expiration dates.
    Tall Timbers

  12. #12
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    Thanks for your thoughts everyone, I sure appreciate it! :-) In the meantime I was able to contact a district manager for the other open stores and he seems very interested in helping me out. The canned food I bought had been packed two years previous to my purchase date....which I think is a little long to be on the shelf for purchasing.

    Also, as it turns out, for some odd reason I saved the receipts to this particular store, so I might be able to do a straight up exchange...if I find favor with them. We'll see, I'll pray and see what God will do. :-}



    Quote Originally Posted by Shayna View Post
    Also, a lot of this depends on the item that is in the can.

    BTW, canned foods are vacuum packed, by being sealed in the can -- the processing of the food is pressurized and so forth....

    Acid-based foods (ex. - tomatoes) last a shorter time in a can than low-acid foods (ex. - tuna).

    I too believe in safety first, but I have eaten a lot of canned foods of varying ages with no ill effects. If you want to post what you have, I'll see what information I can find for you.

    Thanks!
    The cans I have are red kidney beans, green beans, spinach, collard greens, pineapple, asparagus and mixed veggies.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by caligal View Post
    If it is not rusting or bulging it should be ok. The expiration dates are for peak of taste and color.
    This, although admittedly I didn't know about the rust. I check every can for bulging before opening, even if newly-purchased.

    I had some pineapple that expired in 2007 & 2008 -- one of the cans was bulging, the newer one actually. The other was fine and eaten over a week ago with no ill effects.

  14. #14
    Shayna Guest

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    If all these items are typically packed in salt / sugar water (i.e., not packed in another kind of sauce), then these foods you described are low-acid -- except for the pineapple.

    I'd try to exchange for fresh if possible but I'd also try a can with no worries -- as long as there is no bulging or any suspicious appearance etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by I Believe!!! View Post
    The cans I have are red kidney beans, green beans, spinach, collard greens, pineapple, asparagus and mixed veggies.

  15. #15
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    Hey, good news!!! The grocery said they would go ahead and exchange all 200 cans for fresher ones no problem!!! I went down last Wed and they happily helped me out and went through the store for me and got my replacements!!! I'm so happy because DH got laid off about three weeks ago and I'm sure we'll be needing those cans of food!

    God's the one that did this, I'm sure. I was really praying that He'd work things out and they sure did! So, now I don't need to worry about expiration dates (or lack of)! :-}

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