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 (http://redfeathercannedbutter.com/) 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.
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.