Shelf life of canned foods

Canned food (also known as wet packed).  A frequently asked question is how long is the shelf life of canned foods?  Shelf life varies depending on the product.  Foods having high acid content have the shortest shelf life.  Tomato products are a good example.
A majority of cans have at least one or two dates on them: a best used-by date and a manufactured date that is often in code.  The codes showing manufactured dates vary by manufacturer and usually include a time and place of canning.

Best if used before/by: 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 for a while but the quality won’t be as high.

If correctly stored in moderate temperatures (below 70 degrees F) the majority of canned foods will last at least two years beyond the date of manufacture.  Most canned products retain their safety and nutritional values long beyond these dates.

Do not buy dented or damaged cans, the seals may be broken or weakened.

I have personally eaten canned goods that were over ten years old.  Prior to eating any out-of-date canned goods, check the cans carefully for bulges or leaks.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 foods.  Try not to even touch the contents; there is a good chance that the can contains botulism.

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, but I would not recommend it.  Time always causes a loss of nutrition and deterioration in taste.

See also  Old Yeast Should be Proofed Before Using.



A Must Read
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

3 thoughts on “Shelf life of canned foods”

  1. Question and a Comment

    First, I learned from grandma in home canning that tomatoes last longer because of the acid content suppresses bacteria. Would shorter shelf life of metal cans be because the acid interacts with the metal?

    Second, here’s what Hormel says about shelf life ( ):

    “What is the shelf life of a Hormel Foods product in an unopened can?

    The processing techniques utilized by Hormel Foods makes the canned product safe for use indefinitely if the product seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. It is suggested that all canned products be stored in a cool and dry environment to keep the flavor adequately preserved. For maximum flavor it is recommended that the product be used within three years of the manufacturing date. After that period of time, the product is still safe to use however, the flavor gradually declines.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top