Every kitchen has a cupboard or pantry designated for tinned food products, some of which remain untouched for years. Many canned ingredients don’t have an expiration date, but there are a few storage hacks people can use to ensure food is safe to eat “indefinitely”.
Tuna, baked beans, and chopped tomatoes are some of the most common ingredients found tucked away at the back of the cupboard and are safe to eat more often than not.
However, their impressive shelf life can be cut short if stored incorrectly – and could warrant the food unusable.
To avoid this, food safety experts have shared the best solutions to ensure tinned goods never go off.
According to Bryan Quoc Le, food consultant and author of 150 Food Science Questions Answered, the first rule of storing canned produce is to keep them in a “cool, dry place”.
While this may come as no surprise, signs of spoilage often go unnoticed by people who think their cupboard is a suitable spot for tins.
The food expert explained that tins kept in warm, moist areas – like under the sink, above the stove, or in a damp basement are most at risk.
Likewise, extremely cold temperatures can also render food unsafe to eat. This is because the tins can rupture, resulting in air pockets and rust.
Guidelines by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) state that food should remain fit to eat if a can is shallowly dented, and there are no other obvious signs that the can is damaged.
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However, if the denting is deep, the can may have a hidden split, hole or break in the seal – in which case, the food inside “should not be eaten”.
Signs of rust on the can also suggest that the food inside should not be consumed.
The FSA added: “You should avoid eating food from a visibly bulging can. If the can spurts when it is opened, this may be a result of gas buildup in the food and could be due to the presence and growth of microorganisms.
“These microorganisms can spoil the food and can make it unsafe.”
Fortunately, cans in good condition will remain safe to eat “indefinitely” when kept in a cool, dark, low-moisture environment, according to Bryan.
He said that if they are past the use-by or expiry date, the unopened cans should be fine for “at least several years” more.
It is possible that the quality of the goods may decrease over time though this depends on the item.
The food expert explained that high-acid ingredients like tomatoes would maintain their quality for 18 months after the use-by date, while low-acid items (like meat and vegetables), will remain at their peak freshness for two to five years.
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