I noticed that most canned goods that I buy have an expiration date that is about 2 yrs in the future. How much longer they are good? I am not sure. It would have to be determined by the conditions they are stored in. As long as I have the funds - I don't eat expired food. Later, if/when the situation changes - I am sure I would rather eat food a year past the expiration date than starve.
In general, high-acid canned foods such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple can be stored on the shelf 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep 2 years -- if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, dry place.
Storing foods in high temperatures can make them spoil, even while sealed.
Even if they are a few years old, the quality may not be as good, but as long as they were properly processed to start with, they will still be safe.
Canned goods are safe to use as long as seal remains intact. In other words, no bulging or leaking cans should be thrown out. With home canned, seals should still be tight. I'm not saying quality will be as high in 10 years as 2, but they should be safe. I don't recommend keeping things that long, but I've used old canned stuff that was lost in the back of the pantry and lived to tell about it. I am very careful to rotate food stuffs, but don't worry about things getting up to 5 years old. I'm also very careful to check cans for rust, bulging and if they "spurt" when opened, they are tossed without tasting and can opener cleaned with hot soapy water with bleach added. About the worst for going bad are really acid foods like tomato products and pineapple.
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Commercial canned goods will last for a great many years if the cans are protected from rusting.
The food within however can vary depending on what it is and your storage conditions.
As a general rule you can get two good years for just about anything at any sort of reasonable storage temeprature. Acidic foods like tomatoes and most fruit tend toward the shorter end. In my personal experience canned pineapple if it was good quality to begin with lasts longer than other acidic foods.
Canned soups will generally go at least three years, maybe more.
Canned meats, especially the darker or saltier types, can last five years or more without any noticeable difference if storage temperatures are good. Canned tuna however tends to a mushier texture at three years or so, at least here in Florida with our warmer storage temperatures this has been my experience.
The foods that we typically rely on for important nutrients such as vitamins C and A generally have the shortest nutrient shelf-lives. Foods that we get simple carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals from tend to have longer shelf-lives. The more strongly colored fruits and vegetables tend to fade over time so it's better to keep them on a two year or less cycle if you can manage it.
Much also depends on your perceptions of what is "good." Honestly there are some folks who seem happy enough to eat most anything so aren't in the least deterred by a can of faded peaches or mushy tuna. And there are those who can barely tolerate canned foods to begin with so are more sensitive to deleterious changes in color, flavor, and texture. They'll pick up on negative changes a lot sooner than the first group.
So long as the can remains properly sealed and is not bulging then most any canned good will remain safe to eat for at least a decade meaning that it won't likely poison you. But it may not be very attractive when you finally do open it and the more delicate nutrients may have long since given up the ghost.
Preserved foods of any type outside of certain types of hard cheese, wines and that sort of thing don't get any better while they are in storage. All they can do is grow worse than they were the day you bought them. To this end at home I try to keep all of my wet pack canned goods on a two year or less rotation cycle unless I have reason to know better that a given food will keep OK for longer than that.
Location: Northwoods of Minnesota, formerly of Texas
I'm a skeptic when it comes to expiration dates -I think its a slick marketting tool for manufacturers to get otherwise intellligent consumers to toss out "expired" foods and goods in order to increase sales. I understand that the nutritional value of a food might be reduced over time (and it will by the canning process as well) but "expired" canned goods are still a viable alternative to hunger and starvation...maybe not "gourmet" -but it beats eating a snowball. (then again, I am not too choicey -I'm not a "super-taster" and I don't always pick up the subtle changes in food that others wrinkle their noses at. ) Pass the skunky beer.
My understanding was as some others 2 years after the expiration date was safe time period. But I have eaten canned soup that was 5 years out of expiration and it tasted fine to me and I didnt get sick or obviously die from it so I think its safe to say if stored properly it will last a long time.
I will say this......Food looses alot of its nutrients over time so while you may have something to eat and it may fill your belly older food isnt giving you the nutrients and minerals you need to properly sustain yourself.
for the past month since I came back home i have been eating food that has been stored for quite a few years and I'm still going strong! the campbells chicken noodle I have on in the pan for lunch has been around for at least 9 years. smells no different to me. tastes the same too. now, i do have tomato soup that's been around for that long and I might chuck it. Georgia.