Canned food shelf life : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

This information is from the Canned Foods Alliance. There are useful links at the site.

One of people's most frequently asked canned food questions is about its shelf life and use-by dates. Here's the scoop for all of you who are wondering. The codes that are stamped on canned food are manufacturers' codes that are not usable by consumers. The codes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and usually include coding for time and place of canning, but often do not have any "use-by" date.

The general rule of thumb is that canned goods have a shelf life of at least two years from date of purchase. In fact, they have an almost indefinite shelf life at moderate temperatures (750 F and below). Canned food as old as 100 years has been found in sunken ships, and it's still microbiologically safe! We don't recommend 100 years, but if the can is intact and not bulging, it's OK.

For more information about canned food expiration dates, nutritional content of canned food and the exact date of processing, please review the answers to our commonly asked questions about canned food storage. In addition, please visit, sponsored by the National Food Processors Association, for additional food safety information.

-- Old Git (, November 02, 1999


I heard that you can increase the shelf life by turning the cans over every 3 months.

-- palavia (, November 02, 1999.

I have a brave (or foolish) friend who kept a can of tuna for ten years to test its safety. He ate it and had no ill effects.

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, November 02, 1999.

palavia, any idea why that would do anything? I know that Folgers recommends turning coffee over every 6 months. This keeps the oils mixed properly. But I can't think how that would affect canned veggies. As an aside, I have called a number of food vendors about date codes and they have all been very helpful and courteous. They seem to WANT people to call for advice.

-- (, November 02, 1999.


Plavia seems to be referencing the practice of turing over cans of condensed milk periodically. The reason is similar to the reason for doing it for cans of coffee.

Keep your...

-- eyes_open (best@wishes.not), November 02, 1999.

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