Shelf life of canned goods : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I contacted Hormel and inquired about the shelf life limits on their meat products. I was gratified to learn that ALL their products, including chili and Dinty Moore beef stew, have unlimited shelf life as long as oxygen has not made contact with the contents.

I also spoke to Star Kist about shelf life of their tuna, and was told that the shelf life is 4 to 6 years.

Can anyone confirm these responses? Is Hormel saying that their products will never go bad, or that whenever they do... oxygen has seeped in? Comments?

-- Roy Cave (, November 02, 1998


The answers you got may be true. However, when I have looked at the dates on the cans they usually expire within 2-4 years. I noticed Campbell's soups in the stores right now expire around 10/2000. Of course, the expiration date on the can may not mean that the contents won't be any good after that.

-- Buddy Y. (DC) (, November 02, 1998.

There is a bit of a difference between 'going bad' (i.e. spoiled, unfit to eat) and 'nutritional value'. Canned goods in general store for a long time; 3-5 years (there are exceptions) without spoiling. But their contents continually lose nutrional value over that time. In general, the cooler and drier the storage (above freezing though), the better. That's one reason a lot of folks are recommending that you purchase suplemmental vitamins and/or also store and grow sproutable seeds such as alfalfa (very cheap and very easy to grow).

A good reference is:

Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens


-- Arnie Rimmer (, November 02, 1998.

What they are telling you is true. SPAM for instance has an everlasting shelf life. The quality may not be the same as when it was canned, but what the heck, when your hungry you'll eat it and not complain. Vitamins do not have a very long shelf life so if a disaster is a prolonged one then we are all basically screwed nutrition wise...except for those who have a garden, water and fertizlier to maintain it.

-- Bardou (, November 02, 1998.

Learn how to SPROUT! Sprout seeds preferably organic will last up to 5 years and are tremendous in maintaining good health. Protein from beans and rice. Grind fresh flour from wheat berries with a hand mill. Yes, I will have some canned goods like tuna and such but there are many ways to eat healthy through all this. Try starting now to develop your skills and good health! Diana

-- Diana (, November 02, 1998.

I don't know, but I strongly suspect that, for legal reasons, the expiration dates on any food are extremely conservative. Can you imagine the lawsuits if canned foods have gone bad within the nominal expiration period and the can is not damaged? Sometimes I even suspect that these are conveniently quick pull dates from retail shelves, to encourage ordering more often.

-- Flint (, November 02, 1998.

Flint: I like those "quick pull dates." The first place I stop at the store are the discount baskets. Great bargains and there's nothing wrong with the products. You are probably right that the dates are put on there so reordering is sooner than later.

-- Bardou (, November 02, 1998.

Oyur wonderful nanny hath decreed that there shall be no expiration date greater than 3 years into the future for anything which might expire. Thus, you have the pull dates, etc.


-- Chuck (not@to.nite), November 02, 1998.

Remember the scene from "Road Warrior" when Mel was eating the can of dog food? Wonder if he or his dog were worried about the sell by date on the can? There are some earlier threads that have links to shelf life info and how to read codes on packaged food. Even Pepsi has a date on it now. Maybe we'll have "vintage" Pepsi in the post- y2k world. Lets open a fine can of 11/98. Remember in 98 when .....

-- Bill (, November 03, 1998.


Due to the type of processing and inadequate packaging, Regular Canned Goods & Dry Foods packaged in Cardboard Boxes & Plastic Bags as purchased from the shelves in Grocery Stores ARE NOT SUITED FOR A LONG-TERM FOOD STORAGE PROGRAM!

This Summary Outline provides guidance on the various Types & Storage Methods of Specialty Food Products that are processed and packaged to go far beyond the Short Shelf-Life of Regular Canned, Boxed and Bagged Foods.

While it is possible to acquire enough expertise to determine the various different types and quantities of food needed for a Nutritionally-Sound Balanced Diet using Wet-Packed, Dried and Dehydrated Foods, the biggest obstacle for most individuals planning their own Long-Term Food Storage Program is how to package and store the food for Maximum Useful Shelf-Life.

The first questions are:

What sort of containers should I use?

Must the containers be Food Grade?

When using Plastic Bags inside a container, must the Plastic Bag be Food Grade?

How many Plastic Bags must I use to make certain that no air or moisture will get in the food?

How do I seal the Plastic Bags? Wire-Twist Ties? Tape? Both?

What should I do to prevent Bugs & Other Vermin from contaminating the food? Use Dry Bay Leaves ?

Do I need a Vacuum Suction Pump to remove excess air from the food container?

How do I remove Moisture & Oxygen from the food container?

What sort of Desiccant do I use to remove Moisture -- and where can I buy them?

What do I use to remove Oxygen -- Nitrogen, Dry Ice or other method?

All of these questions are very logical, and require Expert Answers that are not always readily available.

Everyone has opinions and different recommendations as to the types of Containers, Method of Packing, Extracting Moisture & Oxygen, Sealing and Storing the food.

Does it hurt dry food to be frozen? Is it alright to store food in your attic since Im short of storage space, and also want to hide my food supply from prying eyes?

The absolutely worst environment for any type of food [dry or wet] is a Warm or Hot Place.

No, it doesnt hurt Dry Foods [Wheat, Rice, Lentils, Corn, Beans, Granulated Sugar, Cereals etc] to be frozen. In fact, freezing is desirable to extend the Useful Shelf-Life of Dry Foods -- and certain types of Wet Packed Foods. Since water expands when frozen, you obviously dont want to freeze food in a Glass Jar, Metal Container or Other Container that will break, distend or rupture from expansion due to freezing.

For those who dont know how -- or who dont have the time to Plan, Assemble, Pack and Store their own Long-Term Food Storage Rations -- Safe Trek Foods takes all the Guessing & Frustration out of the equation, and provides you with a Fully Planned, Nutritionally- Balanced Menu of Essential Foods for Long-Term Storage.

Safe Trek Foods is the LARGEST, Most Completely Stocked, Cheapest, Reliable and Responsive Supplier in the USA for Long-Term Food Storage.

Safe Trek purchases all food items directly from the Actual Producers -- with all Food Processing, Canning and Packaging done on-site by Safe Trek itself.

All Safe Trek food products are packed in #10 Size Metal Cans [approximately 1 U.S. Gallon]. the #10 cans are Double-Enameled [coated twice inside the can and twice outside] to provide extra preservative capability and safeguard against rust and other corrosion.

Oxygen-Absorber Packets are inserted into these Storage Containers. Oxygen Levels are thus reduced, and the Useful Shelf-Life of the food is greatly increased. These foods will retain their nutritional value and good taste for 5-15 years, if stored in a cooler environment. No refrigeration is needed.

By using the Autoclave Thermostabilized Retort-Pouch Technology employed in the manufacture of U.S. Military Meals Ready to Eat [MRE], the Useful Shelf-Life of food products can be extended to as long as 130 months [10 Years & 10 Months], if such Autoclave Thermostabilized Products are stored at a constant temperature of 60F -- with an Indefinite Shelf-Life if stored frozen.

Extensive testing done by the U.S. Army Natick Laboratories determined that the Useful Shelf-Life of a MRE stored at various temperatures is as follows:

1 month @ 120F

5 months @110F

22 months @100F

55 months @ 90F

76 months @80F

100 months @ 70F

130 months @ 60 F

MREs have an Indefinite Shelf-Life when stored frozen -- but you must avoid fluctuating temperatures in and out of the freezing zone.

Time & Temperature have a Cumulative Effect on the Useful Shelf-Life of any food. For example, a MRE stored at 100F for 11 months, and then moved to a different storage location where the temperature is 70F, would result in a loss of 1/2 of the 70F Useful Shelf-Life.

While on the subject of MREs, a WARNING is in order! MREs being advertised by various companies as U.S. Military Surplus, Contract Over-Run Production, Manufacturers Excess Inventory etc, are in fact FACTORY-REJECTED PRODUCT! In addition, there is no way to determine the Date of Manufacture or the various locations and varying temperatures under which such MREs have been stored before you purchased them.

A full dissertation on Military Surplus MREs is available on Internet Site -- or we will E-Mail or Fax a copy to you on request.

The answer to Military MREs is Factory-Fresh Commercial MREs called HeaterMeals -- The Meal With The Stove Inside! Such MREs consist of a delicious > pound entree, fork, salt, pepper and napkin -- plus a 2 ounce packet of water to activate the Flameless Chemical Food Heater.

The HeaterMeals entree has been manufactured using the same Autoclave Thermostabilized Technology as with Military MREs, in which the food is cooked twice -- once before and once after packaging.

Instead of the MRE & Heater being separate as used by the U.S. Military, for Commercial Application/Civilian Sales both the MRE and the Heater have been combined into 1 New and Innovative Product: HeaterMeals!

our company [Conquest International Corporation] was the Exclusive Foreign Marketing & Sales Agent for 1 of the 3 former Prime Contractors to the U.S. Government for Military Meals Ready to Eat [MRE]. The manufacturer of HeaterMeals was the Sole Provider to the U.S. Military of their Patented Food Heaters, producing and selling over 70 million such heaters since 1990.

Conquest International Corporation is a distributor for HeaterMeals  WITH IMMEDIATE DELIVERY of Factory-Fresh Brand-New Product! Full details, menus, pricing and ordering information is available on our Internet Site.

For those who dont have the time or are unable to plan their own Long-Term Food Storage Program, Safe Trek Foods and Conquest International Corporation have developed 2 Pre-Assembled Food Packages with a great variety of items to provide a 1 year supply of Balanced Menu Essential Foods for 1 person  plus a second package that provides 4 people with a 1 year supply of food [or 1 person with 4 year food supply].

In addition to Specialty Processed & Packaged Long-Term Food Storage Kits from SafeTrek Foods, Conquest International Corporation provides HeaterMeals as Quick Ready to Eat Meals to supplement your Long-Term Food Storage Program in preparation for The Coming Bad Times!

Safe Trek & Conquest specialize in PREPAREDNESS FOR PERILOUS TIMES


Conquest International Corporation 1109 SW 8th Street, Plainville, Kansas 67663 Tel [785] 434 2483 Fax [785] 434 2736 E-Mail: Internet:

-- Conquest International Corporation (, November 03, 1998.

Just a report on our experiments with Granola.

Over the last couple of days we made both granola recipe's that were in The Last Whole Earth Catalog which we posted. The smaller was easy and dried hard. It was cut into bars prior to drying. Tasted like the jello flavor. We used Orange and forgot the sugar on one batch. Very good. The Rasberry batch with sugar was a little too sweet for me.

The larger recipe turned out to be granular granola. My mind was locked onto making dry bars so I didn't think about any other outcome. Was surprised but not disappointed. It is delicious. 1- 1/2 order filled a gallon freezer bag completely.

In going for bars again, we modified the granular recipe to have it come out hard like the smaller recipe. This time we used whatever grains were left over. We used a larger amount of soy compared to the oats & bran to get more protien production. (Is 50/50 beans/grain the way to go for max. protien or is there a better ratio?) We replaced the veg. oil with dry milk; left out the jello and threw in about half the sugar we thought it would otherwise take.

Came out excellent. A little too thick on the pan to dry completely in 12 hours but that can be fixed. The taste is nicer natural with no jello flavor.

One thing; in looking for all the grains needed, we paid way too much for Seseme at the Supermarket and couldn't find ground soy or flax at all. After looking around we went into fairly large health food store. They had everything we needed and at surprisingly low prices. Paid about half for the same amount of Seseme, for instance. Most of the items seemed lower compared to our Supermarket.

Still looking for grain mill. Where's best potential local outlet? Any suggestions please? Walmarts not got!

-- Floyd Baker (, November 03, 1998.

Roy, I found a web site that has a 19 page shelf life recommendation information sheet. I printed a copy for me and the in-laws. The web site is Hope this has info you were looking for. Also, on the side, I sent you an order for Aerobic 07 the other day. Mary

-- Mary Howe (, November 04, 1998.

Expiration dates on long-life goods are often chosen by the retailer. They don't think customers like seeing dates ten years in the future; the customers might start thinking that some of the rest of the stock in the shop has been going stale for the past decade! Therefore they'll often choose (say) 1 year ahead, even if the particular product is good for many years more.

And, of course, if customers chuck stucc fecause it's gone past its sell-by date after purchase, it generates replacement sales.

-- Nigel Arnot (, November 06, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ