Shelf Life of Red Feather Butter and Bega Cheese

The other day I received the following question.
We have some canned Bega processed cheddar cheese and some Red Feather pure creamery butter.  They were bought in 2000.  They taste fine and look fine.  How much longer could they last?  They were stored at 50 to 60 degrees.

It is good to know that they still tasted fine after 13 years.  I have an open can of Red Feather butter in my refrigerator right now and I find it quite tasty.

In July 2012, I wrote a post on these foods.  As a point of information, Red Feather Butter and Cheese are owned by Ballantyne Foods.  Bega Cheese is a separate company, but makes the cheese for Red Feather.  At that time, their rep and I discussed the shelf life of the products.  Both Bega and Ballentyne share the same rep in the US.  The rep referred me to the following information that is on the web site for Red Feather Butter ( the manufactures of the butter.  She stated at that time the same shelf life applies to the cheese as to the butter.

The following is the Shelf life information on Red Feather Butters web site.

“There is no Expiration Date written in stone, because the shelf life depends largely on the storage conditions (temperature, humidity, altitude, sunlight/shade, etc.).  We do guarantee the shelf life for two years however, the actual shelf life of the butter will ultimately be determined by the storage conditions (temperature being the main factor) and the seal on the can remaining intact and therefore protecting the butter from the introduction of oxygen.  After this, one can expect some nutritional value loss, although it will be edible, provide fat and calories in an emergency, and still be perfectly safe to eat if the cans remain sealed.

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A quote from the National Cannery Association: (Australia)

“Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing.  Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of colour and texture.  Canning is a high-heat process that renders the food commercially sterile.  Food safety is not an issue in products kept on the shelf or in the pantry for long periods of time.  In fact, canned food has an almost indefinite shelf life at moderate temperatures (75° F and below).  Canned food as old as 100 years has been found in sunken ships and it is still microbiologically safe!  We don’t recommend keeping canned food for 100 years, but if the can is intact, not dented or bulging, it is edible.”

Bega and Ballantyne Foods are located in Australia.  Red Feather Butter is manufactured in New Zealand.  The US rep for both products indicates that there has been no change in the guaranteed shelf life of the food.  She states that she is aware of people who have successfully stored it for much longer.

My own feeling is that the short guaranteed shelf lives shown are because these foods go all over the world and are not always stored under the best conditions.

From everything I have heard based the experience of others, and myself, I would not hesitate to store these products for many years, as long as the storage conditions were good and the cans remained intact.

Back to the original question after 13 years, I would probably begin to rotate them.  But I suspect they still have a good bit of storage life left in them.


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7 thoughts on “Shelf Life of Red Feather Butter and Bega Cheese”

  1. We should hope they keep as well as SPAM! I recently opened a can of SPAM which had been part of my preps for the Y2K rollover. I used it to flavor dried Great Northern, “Navy” beans which I had stored in an M2A1 steel ammo box for nearly as long. Flavored with dried onion powder and Tabasco, cooked in my Hawkins pressure cooker for 30 minutes, they were wonderful. Much better than “Ham and Mothers” from the little green C-ration cans of my mis-spent youth.

  2. Ham & Motha’s was a staple of my Vietnam US Army experince… Same as Ham & eggs, pound cake, and peaches.

    1. Yer making me hungry. I devoured c-rations by the case when i was a youngster and it made some of the best camping food in the world.

  3. During WW2 as a child I remember my father occasionally opening a small can of Red Feather Cheese. It was BITEY and not to my 6yo taste but I wish I could obtain some cheese like that these days.
    The cheeses today labelled Mature or Bitey are all comparitively mild (to me)

    1. @Alan Parker you can very much find this cheese online at many stores. As a matter of fact I found this page while looking for the shelf life of the cheese to add some to my food storage. Emergency Essentials (I’m not affiliated) has it on sale as I write this for $3.95 (retail $5.99) or $3.75 if you buy 6 or more. So get ya some cheese 🙂

  4. Current production low-sodium spam in the easy-open tear-off lids is not as shelf-stable as the old stuff and I am not buying any new SPAM….

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