This is a subject that I have posted on previously and causes me a lot of frustration. I keep running across people who throw canned foods out as soon as they reach their best used by date. They think that this is an expiration date and the food will be bad as of this date and they throw perfectly good food out.
All new canned foods have a best used by date. Until this date, your food’s guaranteed to be at peak freshness if it’s been properly stored. After that date, it’ll still be safe to consume as long as the can is not damaged.
On the Hormel website, they make the following statement in the frequently asked question section.
“What is the shelve 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.”
The above seems to be a common answer from all the big canneries.
In theory, as long as the cans are sound and not bulging the food should be safe to eat. Canned foods 100 years old have been tested and found to be safe to eat.
If correctly stored in moderate temperatures (below 70 degrees F) this will help your foods last as long as possible and help maintain nutrition.
I have personally eaten canned goods that were over ten years old, way passed their best used by dates. Prior to eating any out-of-date canned goods, check the cans carefully for bulges or leaks. Do not eat foods from cans that are bulged or leaking. When the can is opened, if it spits at you or shows a release of gas pressure, do not eat the food. Try not to even touch the contents; there is a good chance that the can contains botulism.