Here’s What the Dates on your Canned Foods really Mean (and what you should follow instead)

It can be very useful to have canned goods in the kitchen in times of need when all products expire. But it is of great importance to know which types of canned foods to choose and which to avoid.

The Department of Agriculture in United Stated claimed that some of the cans can provide unsafe contents. They say:

“Cans that are heavily rusted can have tiny holes in them which allows bacteria to enter. Surface rust that can be removed by rubbing with a finger or a paper towel is not good. If you notice any rust inside when opening the cans, do not eat the food because the rust which is an oxidized iron is unsafe to eat”.

What Makes Canned Food Unsafe To Consume?

The safety of canned goods can be affected only by the contamination because the inside part of a sealed can is sterile and the food can’t be affected by no air or microbes. Although the nutritional value of its contents is affected by decay, there is no harmful effect.

But, not all foods have the same reaction to its canned incarceration. Low-acid foods like mushrooms or meats before canning are sterilized with heat. High-acid foods as tomatoes and citrus fruits can’t take the food poisoning bacteria and in such environment, the germs shortly die. So, if the acid is higher, the contents will be safer.

What Should You Know About Expiration Dates?

The first thing you need to know is where they come from. The federal government is no interested in dating food unless you buy infant formula. The concern of the dates of infant formula is not safety, but nutritional quality.

There are 2 different expiration dates. The first one is “sell by” date and the second is “use by” or “best by” date.

The “sell by” date shows when the product itself is at peak quality and indicates when the product should be removed from the shelf. If the product isn’t removed from the shelves until this date, the supermarket can be sued if something goes wrong, nevertheless of the product safety. This is the main reason why perfectly good food is thrown away and why products are sold at hugely low prices.

The “use by” date shows how long the product will be at its peak quality. After this date, you can still eat the food and it will be good but not as fresh as before.

How Do The Manufacturers Determine These Dates?

The manufacturers do not use the regulations and rules from the government agency, but they use lab tests and test kitchens for their products.

You can’t know when a can is removed from the shelf how strict the tests have been before any date stamped on the can. The date can come from a production formula used years ago. So it is seen as a guideline than a rule.

What Should You Do With Your Canned Foods After The Expiration Date?

  1. Eat up

The food is good to eat although a time has passed from the stamped date on the lid. The high-acid canned goods are considered fine for 18months according to the United States Department of Agriculture, and everything else has a shelf life of 5 years.

  1. Keep them stored

Canned foods can’t last forever and at some point, you have to eat them. But in order to maximize their shelf, it is important to minimize the fluctuations of the temperature. Keep them in an environment between 50-70 degrees.

The sunlight negatively affects the shelf life of canned foods. Also, avoid moisture because it can cause deterioration of aluminum of tin cans, thus causing bacteria and mold.

  1. Compost

It is a good idea because the food is still good for eating. Although it contains some preservatives or chemicals, microbes work these contaminants.

  1. Donate

This is also a good idea but you need to know a few thing. Some of the food banks don’t accept anything beyond the stamped date on the lid and they do not take bulging and damaged cans.

  1. Sell

This business idea was presented by Dough Rauch and it is called “Daily Table”. It creates nutritious and affordable meals from the “expired” food in grocery stores that can be taken for free or at very low prices.

  1. Recycle

You need to open the can, wash it well, and recycle the metal. If the botulinum toxin contacts the skin, it can be dangerous, but since the cans are empty and washed well the metal containers can be recycled safely.

  1. Toss them

When there is no other option, you can simply toss them. Put them in a double garbage bags so the cans don’t break open on their way to the landfill.

Source: Best Healthy Guide