A Failure of The Shelf Life of Spam

Notice the swelling on the sides of the can on the right, compared to a good can

In the past, I have mentioned on several occasions that Hormel Food products do not have an expiration date, only a best use date.  On their website, they make the following statement about their products.

What is the shelf life of a Hormel Foods product in an unopened can?

The product is always safe to consume as long as the seal has remained intact, unbroken and securely attached. However, the flavor and freshness of the product gradually begin to decline after three years from the manufacturing date.”

I have recently have had six cans of Hormel Spam 25% Less Sodium go bad.  There was no damage to the cans.  The cans were swollen and spongy when you squeezed them.  The cans had been stored in a cool basement and the best use date was Oct 2014.  When the cans were opened, you could hear a hissing noise.

Here you can see the best use date on the bottom of the can

I have sent an inquiry to Hormel Foods and will publish their reply.  In the past, I have not had any problems with Hormel foods and I hope this is an aberration.  But it goes to show that you always need to check your cans prior to opening regardless of the length of time you have had them stored and don’t forget to rotate your foods.

Howard

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55 Responses to A Failure of The Shelf Life of Spam

  1. David says:

    I’ve noticed that Spam has over the years moved to thinner and thinner metal for their cans. I like to get 1 pound canned hams. Walmart has DAK brand for about $3.80. Big Lots recently changed brands, slightly lesser grade but still good for $3.00. These are tough metal cans with long shelf life.

  2. ke4sky says:

    The older type meat cans sealed with a tin soldered strip which you tore open and wound off with a key were more secure against rough handling than today’s lightweight, no opener required, tab opening cans. If the modern cans are dropped and struck on the tear tab, the seal may be broken. The thinner gage sheet metal used in modern cans is also more easily dented.

  3. SPAM and other commercially canned meats are OK.

    BUT, I prefer my home canned meats – ground beef and chicken, beef, and pork chunks. I can them in store-bought low-sodium beef or chicken broth. The advantages of home canned meats include: less fat, less sodium, more flavor, better knowledge of what it is that I’m really eating, and better matching of container size to my needs.

    Hangtown Frank

  4. Forgetful_Joe says:

    I buy both 25% Less Sodium and the Light versions of SPAM. I haven’t had any go bad on me yet *knock on wood* and they sit in my kitchen cupboard for months on end.

    How long did you have the cans that went bad?

  5. Mike says:

    I was just reading the post on canning bacon and wondered if Spam couldn’t also be canned? Does anyone know a reason why it couldn’t be? This brings me to another question. I’m new to this and hope to acquire some info from those of you who are experts.
    I’ve read countless times that pressure canned food can be stored indefinitely, but that store-bought food in metal cans is only good for a few years. Why wouldn’t the metal canned food last as long as the pressure canned? Sorry if it’s a dumb question, I’m just trying to learn.
    Thanks

    • Methane Creator says:

      Mike, you can Can SPAM (shoulder, port, anal meats), but the high fat content will not allow you to pack the jars as full as most other leaner meats. Your pressure canner will get pretty oily too. I would try cutting it into planks and frying it first. That will remove a lot of the oil and then Can it.

  6. Ama says:

    Did you receive a response from hormel? I have 7 cans of spam that I found in my pantry with a best by Feb 2015, same situation as you. Very swollen, did not open any of them.

  7. Nina Saavedra says:

    I just noticed that I have about 8 cans of Spam 25% less sodium that are also swollen. They all have the same best by Oct 2014 date and other info as yours, except the time (or what appears to be the time) is 10:31…wonder if there’s some bad bugs in the mixture/bad canning process. I’m going to give them a call.

  8. Grandpa Chuckie says:

    We purchased 5 cans of Spam “Lite” back April 2013 and in Sept, I noticed 3 of the 5 cans had “bloated” so much, it was hard to push the top or bottom in. I noticed that the cans were tilted, not standing vertically. It was because the bottoms were now rounded. Expiration dates were Oct 2014. Contacted Hormel and they sent 3 coupons with no explanation. Then, last month, I noticed another Oct 2014 can bloated. And now, the last of the Oct 2014 cans is bloated, plus another “Lite” can with expiration of Sept 2014 is expanded too. All 5 cans with Oct 2014 plus one Sept 2014 have expanded. We have other cans that have expired with no visible signs of bloating.

    There is obviously a problem with that batch! NOT GOOD! Hormel has done nothing. This could be very serious!

  9. Derrick says:

    I just discovered a bloated can on 25% less sodium spam in my pantry, and I found this page. Seems like this is not an isolated incident!

    However, mine has a Sept 2014 “best by” date… so it’s not just the Oct 2014 batch.

    I’ll be writing to Hormel as well…

  10. spotmom says:

    I also have the problem with the low sodium spam cans. Mine are the best by Dec 2014 and EST number 199 A110814. 2 different purchases of the 4 packs, probably from Costco. I just wrote Hormel an email today. I expect some coupons to reimburse as that seems to be standard proceedure for bad food.

    There is no damage to the cans, if there was they couldn’t get so round! Looks like I have a spam bomb about to blow. One of the 4 packs wasn’t even out of the cardboard sleeve. I am thankful there happened to be one on the shelf in “circulation” and we found it, the others probably would not have been looked at for quite some time as they are in a tote under the shelves. This is kind of “back up” food that we sneak into every now and then because we like spam!

    I think Hormel is going to have to do some kind of recall on this stuff if the complaints keep pouring in. We did eat a couple of the cans earlier and they must have been OK (I am still here to write this), but they have been just sitting in the basement and the rest swelled up.

    • spotmom says:

      I received 6 coupons for the bad cans. Still never have found them on any of the government food recall sites. That is odd. This seems to me to be a pretty serious problem!

  11. Sigmund Frodo says:

    Came here because of the same issue. Two of the 3-pack of Spam 25% Less Sodium I bought from Costco were swollen. “Best by MAR 2015” I know I shouldn’t have, but I opened one and it smelled okay so I sliced it up, fried it up for my dinner sandwiches. I awoke suddenly at 2:30 am and made a mad dash for the bathroom. It was not pleasant.

  12. Seymour Vee says:

    I also have the cans of lite SPAM mentioned above. Similar expiration dates. Tried frying up one of the bloated cans today. Smelled the food … no notice of bad smell or anything. I took one bite … decided I better do some quick reading (remembered the old saying about NEVER eat anything canned that is swollen or has hissing sound … from gas being generated internally by bacterial decomposition). After reading Sigmund above … perhaps a mad dash at 2:30 am isn’t the preferred outcome.

  13. CJ says:

    My bloated spam (25% less sodium) is dated Aug 2014 and also came from Costco. I think instead of writing Hormel, I will take them back to Costco. Perhaps I will get better customer service.

  14. Jlanc says:

    I had 5 cans of bloated spam. I called the 800 number on the can and they said that these are NOT safe to eat and need to be disposed of. The CS rep got my name and address and sent me a reimbursement check for the amount I paid for the 5 cans at costco. You will need to have a can with the info on the bottoms when you call in. CS recommended calling, not emailing or writing for a faster and more accurate response. Took me less than 4 mins, no hold or wait.

  15. Travis Riley says:

    Looks like all the bad cans were the “less sodium” style. Anyone think the lack of salt might make them less shelf stable? I just check my 21 cans and had two bad, both with 2015 expiration dates. One hickory smoke and one regular, so I guess that blows that theory. Not hard to tell if they are bad, the sides of the cans are usually concaved and will not bend in. The bad ones do, the others do not. I guess the same warning applies to all canned good. Check the can then smell it before you eat it. Does anyone know if Hormel makes the private label WalMart brand?

  16. Sixtigers says:

    Hi guys–I just wanted to jump in and my two cents. I just recently had 36 cans of regular SPAM go bad in my pantry, dated SEP2014. I’m on another forum, and don’t know your rules about cross-posting here, so please feel free to delete the following address if it isn’t kosher, and accept my apologies.

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_17/675904_Heads_up__Spam_lovers___UPDATE__Photos_added.html

    I contacted Hormel foods…they really didn’t seem to care much.

  17. anonymous says:

    I bought 7 cans of Spam Lite. Best by April 2015. EST 199 A030727 03:43. is this safe to eat.

  18. kim says:

    Hi I have a spam Lite without expiration or best by date. How can I know if its safe to eat? It only say on the bottom of the can that it was packed 24-06-2011and the EST.

  19. WAYNE says:

    Here in Hawaii, we eat a lot of Spam! I’m not sure why but we have recently noticed the same problem. I have several bloated cans in my pantry.

    Mahalo,

    Wayne

  20. Alesia says:

    I also just found 8 swollen cans of low sodium spam in my pantry. I live in Hawaii and kept them cool and dry. The sell by date is feb 2015. I guess I’m calling the 800 number too. 🙁

  21. Doone says:

    I’ve also recently found that my Lite Spam cans have become bloated. Lot#A102714

  22. Michael Yost says:

    I found that I too had a number of cans of Spam low-sodium that have bulged. I am calling their 800-number but I wonder if this is a problem that’s becoming widespread. Has Hormel made any comment as to whether this is a ongoing problem or if it could be reoccurring or if this is something to continue to watch for in the future on their products. Without Hormel acknowledging what is going on it does make me think twice about ever using their products in the future.

  23. Grampa says:

    With the continuous efforts to maintain a profitable operation every company must cut costs. With food processes they are hit on multiple fronts with not just the product cost but packaging costs and energy costs. It could well be that some of the cuts made in production would shorten the shelf life. The processes are usually “secret” processes that need to be reviewed. With the use of “secret” in their process the government will be the only one who will know of any changes. Not as if it hasn’t been done before but payoffs are not unheard of. The public would not know unless the can “bulges” The only power the public has is the power of the purse. The internet will give us the voice we need and the people when they no longer buy will tell them they have a problem and they need to listen. I have purchased some for long term storage so I will keep close watch and will ship them back without hesitation. Thanks for the post You may have saved some people from an uncomfortable sickness.
    a grateful Grampa

  24. Michael Yost says:

    I contacted Hormel Foods today at the 800 number on the can. I told them about my bloated cans and they said they wanted me tootle them how much I paid for them. I didn’t, as I bought them at Costco but would check into it. They told me to call back with the info and they would remberse me for the cost. Bay the way the best used by date has not yet been reached (March 2015) but is close. I asked about the problem and she was a bit closed mouth about what it was but did admit to it being a problem with one of their canning facilities and that it has been corrected. She said it was canned in 2012. All in all they were very professional but it would be interesting to know what it was that caused the issue, but company liability needs to be protected.

  25. Sharon says:

    Food recalls are issued by the FDA. If they don’t know, they can’t help.

    As a home economist I strongly encourage everyone to please do the following.

    Contact the FDA with all food complaints. This is the new method for reporting food issues.

    Make sure you enter all information found on the bottom of the can. This is important. With it they can trace all the production information and issue a recall.

    https://cfsan.secure.force.com/Inquirypage

    DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EAT ANY PRODUCT FROM A BULGING CAN. BACTERIA CAN BE KILLED BY COOKING, BUT THE MICO-TOXINS (POISONS-WASTE PRODUCTS) THEY PRODUCE CAN NEVER BE REMOVED. THEY CAN PRODUCE VERY DEADLY RESULTS EVEN WHEN THE BACTERIA HAVE BEEN KILLED.

    Remember safety first. Death is not worth the price of a can of any food.

  26. Nanook says:

    I’m sure glad I stumbled onto this info. AND I thought I was the only SOB that likes Spam. 68 years old & have eaten it all the way through. It was a staple during WWII, and I was spawned shortly after.

  27. dina says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments .I found 4 bulging cans today,regular, best by of 3-1015. I called, like Michael, they didn’t admit much except that it was a packaging problem that had been fixed .The woman said even a pinhole lets air in (I knew that) and its rotting from the inside. I bought a can of sausage hash ( 16 oz ) a few weeks ago and it bulged or was that way when I bought it.Just F.Y.I. I chucked it and didn’t think to call then. so because I didn’t have bar code to give them i’m out of luck there. She probably thought I was lying. But she wrote that down , took my name and address. coupons are supposed to be on the way. She appeared to be trying to cover Hormels backside.Kept saying she’d never heard of that…Either way my family loves spam and will continue to purchase.will be watching closer though.

  28. okhiker says:

    Just found two cans with March 2015 best buy dates in the pantry, both bulging. Something with those March 2015 cans.

  29. Kat says:

    I just found 9 cans, all different expiration dates, with bulging cans. Decided to check it out on the internet before I chanced it. Guess I won’t! They are all the Lite version. There is Jan, Mar 2015, & some 2014.

  30. Jeff says:

    Same problem here with 3 out of 5 cans bloated.

    Eating from those cans can make one very ill possibly with botulism and that is not fun. I knew somebody who got that.

    I will not be eating the other cans. This is disappointing since spam use to be a staple of my backup supplies and one of the reasons many people bought spam for.

    I guess they don’t care about that.

  31. Fred says:

    I have a can of spam 25% less sodium dated best if used by Dec 2012 and it is not bulged out at all. I’m going to use it.

  32. ej medina says:

    all of you guys comment’s are really great for those of you that bought the less sodium cans of spam could it be it’s the low sodium that’s making them go bad sooner than later i woun’t use any canned food with low sodium no matter what it is now that’s just me.

    • Security Guy says:

      That might be a valid theory about a cause of this problem. If it was only 1 bad run then why such a wide spread of code dates?

  33. Wyowood says:

    Hi, just checked my cans of regular Spam. All were bulging with best by date of August 2014. I have tossed them after photographing them. No reason to open them! Then I checked all other canned goods but the rest appear just fine.

  34. Dave says:

    Just opened a can that I’ve had at least a couple of years. Best by date of September 2016. There was no swelling of the can. It is the “lite” version with less fat and less sodium. I like mine fried. It was just as good as I remember from childhood (WWII era). The best way to cook it is cut it into at least 1/4 in slices and slow fry so that the outside doesn’t get too brown and rubbery. I’m not a prepper (yet) but I plan to begin rotating a supply in and out for emergency rations.

  35. klashemoff says:

    danger, will ,danger!caution with cans not swollen but slightly collapsed,but when opened ,emitted a foul odor.beware of other unhealthy conditions,of long term food storge.

  36. L. M. R says:

    we have five bloated cans, looks like one is almost to explode, two less sodium, two regular and one turkey. All with expiration dates ranging from 02/2015 to 04/2015. Quite a surprise when we looked at our food pantry.

    We have five bloated cans of Spam, two less sodum, two regular and one turkey. One looks like it will explode! Quite a surprise when we went through our food closet. Exp dates are from Feb 2015 to April 2015, just a few months out of date. We’re sending a pic to Spam to verify the lot numbers.

  37. Lenie Abon Competente says:

    I have four (4 ) cans of Spam, before cooking of any kind of canned goods I usually look and see the best before or the expiration date. And had already cooked the two Spam, when I am about to cook again the third Spam I’ve noticed that the Spam Lite Hormel foods has NO BEST BEFORE or EXPIRATION DATE :. Packed on 20 11 2015 6
    EST199N ILITE 19:43x
    That is what indicated at the bottom in the Spam Lite can. I wrote and made a complaint ‘coz I knew that all canned goods have a best before or expiration date.
    Thank you for giving attention regarding on this matter and a reply.

  38. D.Roberts says:

    Nov 2, 2017… Spam lover of many years… 1st bad can on Nov 1, 2017…. No bulge or hissing sound upon opening… Meat was desicated, pulled away from can wall, shrunken and covered with grayish-white ‘mold’… Didn’t finish pulling tab cover off. No puncture of can detectable. Exp. date was 2020. Cans are now thinner and softer than in years past. Immediately called USDA & FDA… Per instruction placed can (wrapped in foil & plastic baggie) in freezer… was given an “Investigation number”… agent was not sure if I would (a) get a phone call, (b) get a letter, or (c) get a visit to my home.

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