I want to do a follow up on the new food storage problem that we encountered, see Today I Encountered a New Food Storage Problem for prior post. Now that we have had more time to look at it and check the cans, we have learned several things. The things that we have found really stress the importance of inspecting and rotating your food.
First, we think there may have been several different types of bugs involved including silverfish and termites. In addition, there are signs that there was rodent activity, even though they could not get at the food. I suspect that they were feeding on the bugs.
There was rust on the top or bottom ends of many of the cans, where the cardboard had been eaten. Somehow, the action of the bugs generated enough moisture to start the cans rusting. Since the rust was on the cans only where the paper was eaten off, it was not caused by an outside moisture source.
We found a few cans in which the rust had eaten all the way through. On most of the cans that we checked, we were able to remove the rust without a lot of work. Since we wanted to save as much food as we could, we experiment on the best method to clean the cans up? The easiest thing was a wire wheel operated by an air compressor. The hardest was a wire brush.
One thing that helped us determine whether or not the rust had eaten through was to shake the can, if it had contained freeze-dried or dehydrated foods it would rattle. If it did not rattle, the can was compromised.
We opened several mystery cans that had lose their labels and ate some of the foods without any problem. In fact, we are having tacos tonight made from hamburger from one of the cans. Prior to opening any cans that have been stored under this type of conditions be sure and wash the top of the can prior to opening. A finger nail brush works well for cleaning around the rim.
The comments made to the first post Today I Encountered a New Food Storage Problem offered some good suggestion. Plastic buckets work well but not with a large number of cases of #10 cans. If you are going to store large quantities of food in this type of area, I would recommend some type of moisture barrier between the ground and whatever you are going to store the food on. This should help keep the termites out.
For rodents, I would always put d-Con or a similar rodenticide in any food storage area subject to their intrusion. Do not let the food come in contact with the poisons.
Checking and rotating your food on a regular basis will prevent this type of problem.
Based on what I have seen here and in other cases, I cannot stress the importance of inspecting and rotating your food enough.