Canned Goods and Expiration Dates


Drives me crazy when someone freaks out because a can of soup is found to have expired a few months ago – and they throw it away. There really is a misunderstanding on what that date is printed on canned goods – and many other food packages – found today.

The canning process which has been used for over 100 hundred years sterilizes the interior of a can and its ingredients thus eliminating any possibility of bacteria growing. Bacteria – such as botulism – simply cannot just “appear” in a can of chicken or Bean & Bacon soup no matter how old. Of course this process must be done correctly.

Although there are extremely rare exceptions a can of corn eaten 20 years after the “magic date” on the can top will be perfectly safe to consume. It may not taste exactly the same. It may have slightly lower nutritional value. It may not look the same. It may have a different consistency – but it will be safe to eat.

canned goods

What does this mean for prepper’s? It means that canned foods can be a major part of a food storage system with a lower concern for expiration dates. Should these foods be rotated? Of course. Fresh is best – right?

Is it impossible for a can of food to go bad? Of course not. It happens – rarely. If a can is found to be bulging or leaking – discard it. In articular I do not care much for the “pull top” cans that are popular with many brand name manufacturers. That specific seal-type seems weak in comparison to the age-old solid top. Interesting is that most less-expensive brands do NOT have the pop-tops.

I recently ate a can of Bean and Bacon soup – in fact eating it as I type this – that expired in 2013.  3.5 years is not a huge amount of time however most people would have thrown it away over 3 years ago.  Tastes like it was canned at the Campbell’s factory yesterday.

10 years past the expiration date? I’d eat it.







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