I was doing some research on the websites of several food companies and under their questions and answer sections found the following information. The following question and answers are quotes from their websites. I have to commend Hormel Foods, there are the only company I can find that makes a definite statement about the true shelf life of their products.
From Hormel Foods.
Do you have shelf stable products available for an emergency preparedness kit?
Our line of shelf stable canned and microwaveable items are fully cooked and can be eaten cold. They make a perfect addition to your emergency kit.
Hormel Canned Products
Can we serve a product beyond the “Best By” date shown on the container?
For best quality, flavor and freshness, we recommend using our canned items by the dating on the container. After this time, the product should be safe to use as long as the can has not been compromised (no dents, split seams, etc.).
What is the expiration date on a can of Hormel Chili, Stagg Chili or any other Hormel Foods canned product?
For maximum flavor and freshness, we recommend use by the “Best By” date printed on our can. However, the shelf life of the product is indefinite as long as the seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. It is suggested that all canned products be stored in a cool and dry environment to keep the flavor adequately preserved. Our food is processed with a vacuum seal and is cooked at a high temperature which makes it a shelf stable item.
What is the shelf life of a Hormel Foods product in an unopened can?
The processing techniques utilized by Hormel Foods makes the canned product safe for use indefinitely if the product seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. It is suggested that all canned products be stored in a cool and dry environment to keep the flavor adequately preserved. For maximum flavor it is recommended that the product be used within three years of the manufacturing date. After that period of time, the product is still safe to use however, the flavor gradually declines.
Seneca Foods manufactures Libby’s, Stokely’s and other brands Seneca foods is owned by Conagrafoods. Look up Conagrafoods it owns a large number of our familiar products.
What is the shelf life of canned vegetables?
Our products, except sauerkraut, pickled beets, three bean salad and pickled red cabbage are best if used within 24 to 36 months from date of manufacture depending on storage conditions. Sauerkraut, pickled beets, three bean salad and pickled red cabbage are best if used within 18 to 24 months depending on storage conditions. We recommend that all canned vegetables be stored in a cool, dry place.
As you can see from the example from Seneca Foods website, they don’t tell the whole story.