at this late date,do we need to worry about can food expiration dates? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I've started buying canned meatstuffs,figure most should make 6 months...

-- zoobie (, July 09, 1999


I printed a list of food shelf-life recommendations from the How-To Survival Library that gives the following:

Canned Tuna, fish and seafood - 5 years; Dinty Moore, Spam, Ham Chunks, Chili and Dried Beef - indefinite; Black Label Ham - exp. date; canned chicken and canned meat - 36 months. Hope this helps.

-- Nadine Zint (, July 09, 1999.


You gonna pig out on all your food preps right at roll-over? :-)

Actually, I still check codes. Partly habit, partly because I've found food on the shelves of supermarkets, & especially discount stores such as Big Lots, that was seriously out of date.

I'd rather have corn canned 5/1999 rather than 10/1997.

Best Wishes,

-- Bingo1 (, July 09, 1999.

Absolutely still check dates. I have found a number of expired items still on the shelves! ! !

-- Beckie (, July 09, 1999.

Especially when the cans are priced for sale! They often are just under 2 years old. ALWAYS CHECK THE PACKING CODES!!

-- King of Spain (, July 09, 1999.

Sure, check those dates. I plan to live this way, always wanted a big stash of stuff for emergencies! Use a black felt tip, write date on top of can (or package) and on front. Use X for expired and P for purchased, e.g., X2/01. Add new stores at back, just like they do at the supermarket. And of course use oldest ones first.

I LOVE my big pantry (extra bedroom)! How many of us have been feeling a bit off, not good enough to go and buy groceries or light bulbs or something, and have been able to go and get just what we need from the stores? Great feeling of relief not to have to go out there with a sinus headache or a sore foot!

-- Old Git (, July 09, 1999.


i've got an uncle who has worked for nabisco for 20 years. he swears that if you buy one of their products in the unopened box, it will last two years and still taste as good as when you bought it. i.e.- saltines, graham crackers, cookies, fig newton etc. sure wouldn't hurt to have a few of these items around either!

-- don (, July 09, 1999.

Most canned goods last AT LEAST two years, probably 5-10 years or more. It is not necessary to learn to read cryptic expiration dating codes on cans. (There are several sites on the web with detailed information on can imprint decoding if you really want to get into it.) Expiration dating is unduly conservative to eliminate any possibility of lawsuits -- typical Cover-Your-Ass policy in a litigious society. The dating has little or nothing to do with safety or nutritional value. Texture, color and aesthetics may change somewhat: for example, tomato products over several years may lose some color and "zing"; this has little nutritional significance and is not dangerous. Vitamin values will decline several percent per year; you should not be depending exclusively on canned food for vitamins, anyway. (For vitamins use vitamin tablets/powders, and dry beans for sprouting.) With intact, normal-looking (not bulging) cans, produced by modern methods, safety is not an issue. Protein, calorie and mineral values will be the same even after 5-10 years -- and protein/calorie nutrition is primary.

How did I come to these conclusions? 1) I've interviewed several canned-goods manufacturers reps, and got them to speak off the record, 2) I've been studying survival and Y2K prep literature on the web for over a year, and have run into many accounts of people using canned food 10-15+ years old, and finding it in fine condition, 3) I have much knowledge of nutrition and some knowledge of food chemistry, and 4) I have common sense.

Of course canned food should be rotated, like any stored food. Buy cases of canned food and label them "summer 99", or whatever. It is not necessary to know the precise date of manufacture. If you bought it today, then it was manufactured sometime over the last 6 months, and that is all you need to know.

-- alan (, July 09, 1999.


After studying the labels of all of the canned veggies and meats available, I've concluded that the average American meal of two veggies and one meat still won't meet the daily requirements for one family meal (two adults and one 9-year-old). This is true even if the canned food is relatively fresh.

Therefore we've adopted the practice of adding vitamin supplements (yep, pills, and we have a lot of 'em) at the dinner table. I don't see any other way around this problem, if (and when) fresh food from the garden is not an option. Canned food just doesn't meet the total need.

Unless you eat lots of yams and spinach,

-- Spindoc' (, July 10, 1999.

A friend once kept a can of tunafish for ten years, just to test it. He ate it and didn't die or get sick.

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, July 10, 1999.


Do you know if there are any special concerns about the expiration date of vitamins and supplements?


-- RUOK (, July 10, 1999.


My wife (physical therapist) is the expert in such things, and she says that vitamins gradually lose potency over time. That is, vitamins gradually become inert or break down, such that they become unavailable for the body to use effectively. The multivitamins we've stockpiled so far list an expiration date of at least 1 year from purchase, and she suspects that they remain useful for quite some time after that. But you might have to take more of them to get the same benefit. They do not "spoil" like canned food does, apparently.

-- Spindoc' (, July 11, 1999.

I've seen canned food on the shelf that is already expired! Even that is probably still OK for Y2K, since they leave a margin of error. Just plan on eating it beginning January, no matter what. BTW, a Green Giant employee mentioned in passing that they are already experiencing a doubling of demand for canned goods this year as compared to 1998. Expiration dates will improve as the food in transit gets pulled through channels of distribution.

-- Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California (, July 11, 1999.

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