Expiration dates on canned foods

Always afraid of losing a job and not being able to buy food I’ve ended up with cans of soup and vegetables with dates back as far as 2008. Why the dates? Won’t I know if it’s bad as soon as I open it up? How long should canned food really last? Thanks for your authoritative answer,
Rich

I had a couple of cans of peas and green beans I found that were left over from 2001. I bought a kit in case of something like 9-11 happening. I long ate most of the food items and used the rest, but I must’ve overlooked these.

So last Nov 2010 I opened them up. They smelled fine, look fine, so I ate them. They tasted fine, no problems.

I can’t recommend this, but as one of the dirt working poor I understand your fear of no food

It is generally agreed on the survivalist-type boards I frequent that as long as the can is not damaged (punctures or corrosion) that the food is safe to eat. It may, however, have lost some palatability due to loss of orginal texture.

Maybe you would know, maybe you wouldn’t. Possibly just the manufacturer has decided that the taste / texture / colour / whatever no longer meets their standards at that point.

In any case, you probably looked at that date before you bought the can, so it’s at least good for that.

Canned foods were the last products to get “best by” dates. The only way people used to know how old canned stuff was was when the company changed labels. I ate some four years out-of-date canned pears a while back. They were kinda mushy-

The expiry date on canned goods has a lot more to do with stock rotation, rather than edibility. If the can is undamaged, and the contents smell OK, I wouldn’t worry too much.

This guy ate a tinned chicken that was fifty years old:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4693520.stm

Quote at the end of the article:

Prof Eunice Taylor, a food safety expert at the University of Salford, said: "Canned food can last indefinitely if it has been sealed properly, although the normal shelf life is about six months.

"If it’s done at high temperatures and under high pressure, then the process should create a tight vacuum.

“If anyone is going to eat old canned food, I would suggest they heat it thoroughly first of all, just in case to be extra safe.”