A Test of Long Term Foods Stored Since the 1970’s, Part 1

long term storage foods

Here are some o the cans. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Yesterday a friend brought me 16 cans of very old long term storage food stored in #10 cans that he had in the back of his storage.  The can all seemed to date from the mid to late 1970’s.  They covered a variety of companies some of which no longer exist.  I am opening the majority of the cans and evaluating the contents.

The first can I opened was a can of banana slices from about 78 or 79.  These were package by Sam Andy Foods.  They did not look to bad, but had a strong rancid smell.  I have a strong stomach, but I would have to be starving to eat these.  The label said they were stored in “a special stabilized storage atmosphere introduced during packing”.  This was probably nitrogen.  The contents of the can read, “bananas, sugar, honey, coconut oil, artificial flavor.  The coconut oil is probably what I smelled.

long tern food storage

Here are more of the cans

The second can was of dehydrated low-moisture instant apple slices, packaged by Vacu-Dry.  There was no indication on the label as to whether these had been treated in any way to extend their storage life.  The contents were very inedible.  They looked horrible, being very discolored and in some areas had what looked like a white mold on them.  Needless to say I did not taste test them.

The next can we opened was a can of General Mills Bac-O-Bits packed in the late 70s. These were a TVP product and appeared in good shape.  We actually ate one of these and while I would not recommend these for normal everyday use, if I were starving I would eat these without any qualms.


banana slices

These were too rancid to taste, Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

apple slices

These were inedible.


The next food that opened was butter powder Packed by American Harvest Foods.  The can label says “butter, Non-fat milk solids, oxygen receptor to improve stability”.  After opening the can, we sifted through the contents to see if we could determine what the oxygen receptor was.  We found nothing.  Much to how surprise we found the contents to be in relatively good shape.  The contents did not smell rancid, it still smell like butter and we tasted a very small amount.  This is something that I would have used in a starvation situation.  If you have any of this in your storage I would say it is time to think about replacing it.


I tasted these and i would eat these in a real emergency

Butter Powder

The butter powder was marginal acceptable in an emergency

The next can was dried whole egg solids packed by Marshall.  The label stated the cans were stabilized, no idea what that means. They did say to store in refrigerator after opening.  When opened the can gave of a slight smell of rotten eggs.  I passed on taste testing this product. The can was marked 1973.

The cans all showed some small areas of corrosion, but generally appeared to be intact.  They have been stored in a garage not under the best of conditions.

Powdered eggs

The powdered eggs were inedible

Tomorrow I will open the rest of the cans including some Mountain House and Pack Away foods.  Hope this helps you if you have any extremely old products.


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32 Responses to A Test of Long Term Foods Stored Since the 1970’s, Part 1

  1. P Welton says:

    Which just goes to show, we need to rotate our food supplies!

  2. John R says:

    So this article boils down to testing my old food storage by smelling it? Smells bad, feed it to the critters. Smells ok, feed it to John.

  3. shirley wood says:

    Most long-term storage cans say they are good for 20-30 yrs. Food from 1973 would be 40 years old.

    • injun999 says:

      To be fair,freeze dried food is rated for 25-30 years. Dehydrated food has a rating of 7-10 years.

      • Jane says:

        I have the butter, eggs and macaroni. My parents have carried this stuff around since the 70s . I say it’s safe for me to end the shelf life of these cans.

  4. Marilee says:

    Is the food still nutritiously sound or has it started to degrade? I am more than sure the 40 year old foods are no longer nutritious. Freshness or taste testing doesn’t always mean nutritious. So how can we tell when we are told to replace out of date products (like can goods) how much longer to keep them and are they still nutritiously sound

  5. “They have been stored in a garage not under the best of conditions.” Better stated, they have been stored under the worst conditions. These cans should have been kept at a constant 55 – 70 degrees ( the cooler the better). This food has been thermo-cycled hundreds of times! Nothing causes rancidity like heat and being in a garage it probably got over a 100 degrees many times. I opened a can of Shilling coffee that was packed in the 1940’s in the late 1990’s and it was as good as the day it was purchased – we used the whole can! The difference was the root cellar it was stored in maintained a constant 55 degrees and had minimal humidity. The components to deterioration are light, temperature and humidity which explains why wheat stored in the pyramids was still good thousands of years later.
    Yes, absolutely, food storage should be rotated. The best way to do this is to use it regularly. By using your dehydrated food regularly you not only rotate it, you are familiar with HOW to use it. Who wants to climb a steep learning curve under duress? And when your family is accustomed to it there are no ‘adjustment’ issues and there is a sense of normalcy in extremely abnormal times.

  6. Holly Sharp says:

    I have a can of SamAndy can #PS D298 Dehydrated Peaches dated 1974 (I think) Not going to open though….my be valuable someday.lol

  7. kathleen hurst says:

    Be diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.

    For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

    And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens. Proverbs 27 KJV 1611

  8. I have had several kinds of Sam Andy products from mid 70s, thrown away, replaced from a older bomb shelter storage, more than twenty years ago. back then i opened several different ones, my opinion was they were no good,or at least stale, several years later i opened a can of powdered milk just to see and maybe give it to my animals, cat,dog,baby lamb.you know, whoever would eat it, to my shock it looked great, made some up, and again looked fine, they all drank it, next time i tried some, great tasting powdered milk, over the years i have drank several cans of the stuff when i was out and needed some milk. all the others were no good, oh, I’m 70 years old and take no meds.

  9. Mr, Tippetts says:

    We bought a load of Sam Any, food back in the early 70,s . We were in the military and moved 7 times before we FINLY, got out. And then we moved 4 more times, we moved the SamAndy, every time. In 2013 we opened a can of prunes put them in water fore 3 days. They could not be eatin. Our poor dog would not touch them. We opened a can of the veggie soup mix Oh MY that was just way to bad. Anyway we ended up going to the dump, with a load of SamAndy. We went to a new brand.

  10. Laurie says:

    I am in the process of gradually testing cans of Sam Andy dehydrated foods purchased in 1977. To our great surprise, so far most of them have been just fine. We are actually cooking with the foods. The dried apples, spinach, and potatoes have been delicious. The flour is good. The tomato sauce granuals made into a fine tomato sauce.

    The only thing I have thrown out so far has been a few cans of tomatoes that had swollen.

  11. Ann says:

    I have a few cans of Sam Andy food …no dates just stock no. 302….is the number on bottom of can dateD1381….01-03-81?
    How long is food good for?

  12. Connie says:

    We bought Sam Andy about 1973, and have used some of it recently. The sugar is just fine, use it all the time; the flour needs to be sifted but seems ok; the honey we threw out – it just didn’t look like honey, all black. The vegetables taste rather like cardboard, but ok for some soups. We didn’t store any of the cans under very good conditions. We only have dozens of more boxes to go through. Does any one know what to do with “old” bean and split peas? We thought of grinding them and/or pressure cooking them. Any ideas?

  13. Lynn Lowrie says:

    COOKING OLD BEANS can be done. cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off and stir in baking soda a teaspoon or two for a whole #10 can of beans. Let set overnight, drain and rinse very well. Then cook the way you want, they do quite well. I have tried to tell others about this but they don’t believe me. I am a home canner, and I see no problem in canning them. I too was given some Sam Andy food storage. Most dated in the early 1970″s. I just made some muffins with the shortening powder, turned out fine. When I opened the can it smelled right, so I tried. Have a whole case so I’m keeping them. Throw aways were potatoes, carrots, corn, corn meal, cabbage and all the ‘mixes’ I tried were rancid. I just ordered the catalog, looking forward to trying some out. We kept, juices, sugar, cocoa, banana flakes, par boiled rice, macaroni. All tasted and tested and were fine. If they have distributors, I think I’ll sign up.

    • Greg Cole says:

      They have distributors today. I was one during the 70s, 80s and 90s. I don’t know what the company is like today. Greg

  14. Tony Fanucchi says:

    I worked at Vacu-Dry for about a year in 1976-77.Vacu-dry co.dried mostly apples and also some other fruits.All of the apples came in 40-lb. boxes and were already dried and preserved with sulfur dioxide.Vacu-dry had a process where fruits were further dried under a vacuum heat process which would “crunch-dry” and puff up any fruit.For instance,dried golden raisins would end up looking like crunchy little grapes…..LOTS of sulfur dioxide on the fruit….General Mills was a big client because they would coat the apples with cinnamon and sugar spray then puff dry the stuff for cereals.We packed fruit mixes for the military,sugary fruit pie filling dry mixes,long-term jumbo can food storage packs…even puff dried maraschino cherries (ugh…the fumes would be strong on those….)

  15. Greg Cole says:

    I just opened up a can of Sam Andy Food’s fruit cocktail. It was put up in 1973. When I opened it, it spelled like fruit cocktail, it still looked like fruit cocktail and it tasted like fruit cocktail. Probably very little if any nutrition to it, but I tried a very little bit and waited a few hours and came back for more. Over the next week I ate the whole can. Yes, I am alive to day. Not all the products did so well, I agree with most of what has been said on here. The cans that I stored where done under the most ideal conditions.

  16. Judy Becker says:

    While cleaning out my grandmothers storage unit found unopened containers of emergency food supply from the Pack Away Foods company. I can’t find out any information about the company and trying to figure out if these produces are still good or not. I would greatly appreciate any info anyone has about this company. except the trademark info on the internet. Says quality foods since the 1970
    Did they change names etc. without opening the 4 gallon pails and packages. sticker on bottom says manufactured 01/09/2012

  17. Debbie Grant says:

    I just emptied out my small barn. I have a years supply of food storage for 9 family members. They are all gone and I am left to deal with all these buckets and cans. I have many many boxes of cans of Sam Andy, self stored whole wheat, sugar, oats, powdered milk, peas, beans, and more. I have been looking for a chart that would give me an idea what the shelf life is for these products. I hate to open a whole can of powdered shortening just to find out if it is good because I’ll never use it. Can you point me towards a chart please?

  18. Dave says:

    Regarding sugar storage. I worked in the Sugar trade industry for 20+ years. Sugar will last indefinitely if stored in dry and cooler conditions. Honey will not store indefinitely!!! I had some 5# cans stored in our storage room, no light, and much cooler than rest of our house. I opened one to find it dark and nasty looking. I called the company that processed the honey, and they replaced part of what I had. They absorbed the shipping cost, so no complaints. They said that they switched from canned storage to plastic bottles because of the Honey going BAD in cans. Even with cans being lined. This honey was 15 YEARS OLD!
    As previously stated by another writer, BEST TO ROTATE!!
    I sold Sam Andy and Perma Pak in the 70’s to supplement income and get my own storage, and kept it stored in our cool dry basement. I threw it all away last year, except for the salt and sugar. Reason? It was BAD!! Not rotated. Lesson learned.

  19. Annaliese G says:

    Reminds me of my first contact with SamAndy. My dad got into backpacking and decided we would go whole hog with dehydrated foods. He bought a dehydrator, too, which ended up being a parking spot for miscellaneous stuff. I don’t think he ever did more than one set of banana chips.

    In any event, somehow we got hold of a bunch of mislabeled cans. What was meant to be a variety ended up being all powdered eggs or chicken fricassee.

    The powdered eggs were beyond horrible, even fresh. The chicken fricassee…let’s just say we went to bed hungry after a fifteen-mile hike the night we tried it. It was THAT bad. Wouldn’t rehydrate and tasted like eating gravel. Even as hungry as we were, we couldn’t manage the powdered eggs the next morning, either. Ugh.

    Pretty funny, though, trying to feed our dog the powdered eggs. She’d been a stray and would eat ANYTHING…except powdered eggs, it seems.

    Needless to say, I see why SamAndy went out of business!

  20. Diane Dion says:

    This has helped very much. Thank you!

  21. B. Tomsett says:

    I have a can of Sam Andy seed assortment, green label, no date (found in grampa’s barn). May be from this 1970 era. I have been carting it around for 15 or more years now, storing it in a closet. It says specially treated to retain vigor and vitality. Hmmm… I could use some of that myself.

  22. Lisa says:

    Just for display I bought a 1946 can of powdered Sam Andy Peanut Butter!

  23. Craig Whittaker Christensen says:

    My folks got Sam Andy products as emergency food storage for a family of five for up to one year back in 1974. Now in my possession, although should check out some of the items since I’ve never had a need to live off them. I have regularly used the powdered milk, flour, white and brown sugar whenever I ran short, and esp. the milk for a part of some homemade bread I often make using fresh ground wheat (also from the 70s – it has been fine) and regular unbleached flour from a local store. The powdered milk has been fine. The sugar has tended to have clumped up (esp. the brown), but dissolved fine. I’d say that the flour is usable, but not ideal. I have used 60 lb plastic tubs of honey and only had to nuke it if it crystallized and it has been excellent. Probably in for a jolt since I should have tested stuff from time to time. Maybe will learn more as I it appears time to rotate (have put off — now maybe at least every 45 years….)

  24. kathryn says:

    How do I determine the actual date from the imprinted code?

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