7 Critical Canned Goods Tips Every Survivalist Should Know About

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Canned goods are part of every prepper’s essential items to hoard as you’ll never know when you will be needing these.

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Just like any food items that you have, it is best to have a first-in, first-out system when consuming them in order to make sure that your canned goods do not expire.

All along, I thought canned goods are only good until the expiration dates that manufacturers have printed on them. It appears that these are merely estimated dates by which the food item supposedly retains its “freshness”.

However, it is absolutely important to know that certain canned goods can also kill you if you do not know what critical factors to look out for. Imagine not being killed by a natural disaster or man-made catastrophe only to be killed because you ate contaminated canned goods. That will be a shame.

Now in case you find yourself in a SHTF situation where the only available food source are canned goods that were stored in the basement from who knows when, you might find the information that Jacob Hunter from PrimalSurvivor.net shared about canned goods.

Below are the 7 critical canned goods tips that every survivalist should know about:

1. Contrary to what most people think (or are led to think), there are NO federal laws about expiration dates on food. The only exception is for infant formula, which is required to have an expiration date. Some states do have their own laws requiring sell-by dates on meat and dairy products – but none legally require it on canned foods.

2. So what are those “best by” and “use by” dates on canned foods? Those are arbitrary dates that the food manufacturer slapped on their products. In some cases, such as with fresh milk, it does make sense to have an expiration date. No one likes to buy a gallon of milk only to realize it has already started to spoil. However, with canned foods, the expiration date has nothing to do with whether the food is safe to eat!

3. Since canned foods are sterilized and then sealed in an air-tight environment, they won’t breed bacteria. The reason for the expiration date has to do with freshness and taste. After a while of sitting in water, the canned foods can get mushy and lose their flavor.  They’ll still be safe to eat, just taste gross.

4. According to the USDA, these are how long canned foods will stay fresh:

  • 1 ½ Years: For high-acid canned goods (tomatoes, citrus fruits etc.)
  • Up to 5 Years: For low-acid canned goods (meats, most veggies, etc.)

Again, you can still eat canned foods after this time period. They might not taste as fresh as when they were canned and may have lost some vitamins, but they will still probably be safe to eat.

5. In general, canned foods can last for decades after their expiration date. But this doesn’t mean they are always safe to eat. If air manages to leak into the canned food, such as if the seal breaks, then it could become contaminated. Botulism is a big risk here. Botulism, which is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, releases toxins which can paralyze or kill you.

6. You can’t see or taste botulism on canned food. However, there are other signs that a can of food might have gone bad.

Exterior Signs a Can of Food Has Gone Bad:

  • The sides of the can or its lid are bulging
  • The can is rusty or corroded
  • The can is leaking food

Interior Signs a Can of Food Has Gone Bad:

  • There are small bubbles in the liquid inside the can
  • Bad odors
  • The food has become mushy
  • The liquid is cloudy
  • The contents explode after the can is opened

7. Rotate your canned foods. Just because canned food can last for decades, it doesn’t mean you should let it sit around for decades. To play it safe, make sure your canned foods are fresh by rotating them.

If you care to read the full guide written by Jacob Hunter about canned food shelf life, you can check it our right here.