We’ve all asked the question. Can I eat this expired canned food? Well, I ate food from three cans of food storage that was three years old. I learned some interesting things in the process. Keep reading before you throw out all of your expired food.
I recently came upon about 30 cans of food storage at a garage sale. All of it was free because they we worried that it was expired. I took it all. After examining each can, only five of the 30 cans were expired. So, the question was, were they still okay to eat or should I throw them out? Here’s what I learned.
Wait! Here’s what the experts say
Before you throw out a can of food that is just a few months expired, consider what the U.S. Department of Agriculture says about expired canned food storage:
“Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling). Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will be safe past the ‘best by’ date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor. You’ll know when you open the package if the food has lost quality. Many dates on foods refer to quality, not safety. “
What some think is an expiration date on the can is actually is a “best by” date. So, a lot of perfectly safe food is being wasted and thrown away unnecessarily.
How do I know if expired canned food is safe to eat?
There are multiple ways to check if an expired can of food is safe to eat or not. DO NOT consume a can of food if you notice the following:
Of the 30 cans of food storage that I got at the yard sale, only one of the cans looks suspicious. It was a can of tomato powder. It was bulging and it was obviously not safe to eat. So we threw that one in the garbage.
How old is too old?
In 2021, Kira Wennerstrom from Colorado, ate some canned food that she found in a hatch underneath the floor in a home that was built in 1904. Some of the food that she tasted was nearly 75 years old and was canned sometime between the 50s and 70s. The food that she and her father tasted included salad dressings, figs, pickles, pears and meat. All of the food was apparently still edible and had not spoiled.
It’s up to you whether or not you want to eat 75-year-old canned food. But the point is, expired canned food storage–especially food that is canned commercially under tightly controlled conditions–is perfectly safe to eat.
I tried three cans of expired food. Here’s how it went
I had a can of chocolate milk drink mix, cheesy potato soup mix and banana slices that were three years expired. Honestly, three years isn’t that old. My husband was ready to throw them out but I told him I just wanted to try them out.
The contents of each can looked and smelled completely normal. After tasting each of them, you could tell them were completely fine. I was glad that I didn’t throw them out! Here’s a video of my little taste test.
Still not convinced?
If eating food storage past the expiration date still isn’t something you are willing to do, no problem. But don’t throw it in the garbage can. Many food pantries will accept canned food several years past the “best by” date. Then at least you’ll be helping someone else who doesn’t have any food to eat in the first place.
Emergency Food Storage that last 25-30 years
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