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Discussion Starter #1
Did some shopping yesterday, bought an assortment of canned foods. Looking at the expiration dates most had shelf lives up to 2015-16. How long after the dates could one expect them to still be good? Say you were able to store them in a controlled environment with a reasonably constant temp, would that prolong the life? Also, how much of your food storage consists of canned food? I don't want to go crazy buying stuff that will go bad in a couple years. Thanks-Mike
 

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When I was a kid I went to a cave in East Tennessee. Civil Defence had put a huge store of emergency rations down there in the '50s so the cave could be used as a fallout shelter. In the '90s they broke open a bunch of the material in that cache to see if it was still good. I heard a lot of it was.

I would be more comfortable with home canned stuff. It's in glass, so no need to coat the inside of the container. I think metal cans have an inner coating, especially if the food is acidic (e.g. tomatoes). I'm no scientist, but I imagine that coating will break down over time. Probably not good for you to ingest...though it might be better than starving.
 

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Commercially canned foods are labeled with a "Best used by date", not an expiration date. As long as the seal on the can is good (no bulging, no leaking, etc.) it should be fine for years past the date. "Best used by date" is referring to the taste and in some cases the nutritional value of the food. When I was in service, I ate C-rations that were from 1954, 14 years old and they were fine. Since I've started prepping, I've eaten MRE's that were pushing 10 years old and they were fine too. Foods in glass jars let ultrviolet light in that can degrade the food. It's best to keep glass jar foods in the dark or wrap then in aluminum foil. My mother was an avid canner. Grew up during the depression, when prepping was a way of LIFE. Many a time, I ate food (mostly vegetables) that were 5 - 8 years old. When My mother passed away and we were cleaning out the house, I found dozens of quart jars of fruit and vegies that were canned 20 to 30 years before. Not wanting to waste the jars, I started dumping the contents down the drain. Not noticing any bad odor, I tasted a few and found them completely edible and took what was left home with me.
The commercially canned foods I buy, I write a the "Best used by date" plus an extra 2 years for fruits, 4 years for vegies and 5 years for meat or meat products on the top lids. Almost everything I have in my stores is the same foods we eat during the week. Once a year, I check my stores and pull food according to the date and put them into my pantry and replace them with new cans. No wasted food. So far the worst I've had was a soup can with some light rust like "stuff" on the lid. Upon opening, it was ok.
If you're interested, I found a list of food shelf life that has proved helpful. Message me and I send it to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Maybe... Botulism won't give a person another chance to search for a heal.
Never thought of that, I guess there is no "perfect" solution. Do you store canned foods?
 

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What Paraquack said plus keep in mind that the Best Used by Date is federally required on food. That's why you see an expiration or best used by date on things like bottled water - even in glass bottles. To save space I just dehydrated a bunch of canned veggies that were near the best used by date. Cleared out a whole shelf in the food "bunker". Years ago when I supervised a school district warehouse, we received two huge pallets of USDA applesauce. The expiration date was a month off. Later that same day I heard a muffled boom sound. Some of the cans (#10 size) were exploding - applebombs. Never ate another school lunch after that.
 

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Spam and other canned meats and fish 2-5 yrs past expiration date depending on storage conditions. Rotate your stock for greater length and to insure what you eat in hard times resembles your normal diet. It gives you an insight to your capabilities.
 

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My article on Canned Food.

Basically, under ideal conditions canned food has lasted since the beginning of commercial canning; but under bad conditions, there may be poison canned with the food. Assuming the food was properly sterilized and the integrity of the can has not been breached (not even small pinhole leaks in the seams or a rusty patch), the food should be safe and have some nutritional value. Taste and nutritional value do degrade over time.
 

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Never thought of that, I guess there is no "perfect" solution. Do you store canned foods?
We can our own and constantly resupply in season. Just brought home 3 cases of apples to process. I work at a school and it is purely amazing what they toss. Cases of stuff if all sorts. Also garden and gather.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks guys, very good info!
 
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