How old is the meat in canned soups?

While eating a can of “Campbell’s chunky sirloin burger soup” I had a semi morbid thought. Since these type of foods can last a very long time, how long ago on average did this cow die? This is assuming a new can I bought off the shelf this week. Did the cow likely die earlier in the week or this month? Is it possible the cow died over a year ago? Is there any way to know this?

It wouldn’t surprise me if commercial soups were made from frozen beef, which could further separate date of butchering from date of eating. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I eat meat from my freezer all the time. I discovered a corned beef brisket from 2013 recently, and it was delicious.

I agree, I’ve eaten canned food for years and it’s a fascinating technology. I’m just curious about how far they can stretch the two dates.

If it was made from frozen meat it could be very old indeed as meat lasts a very long time in industrial deep freezes (which are colder than your freezer at home). When I worked at a supermarket during University I remember one Xmas there were turkeys in the deep freeze upstairs that were 10 years old, but still good to sell.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s 250,000 years old. It’s still a good question, though.

I presume that was years ago, because this would never happen now. The profit margin in supermarkets is far too low to allow them to carry inventory this long without selling it. They now try to sell goods very quickly, even if they have to sell it at sale prices, rather than hold it in inventory. That’s why there are so many sales just after holidays – they are trying to clear out unsold inventory.

Aren’t there (apocryphal?) stories of MRE rations which are literally decades old and still being consumed?

There was a scandal in 1899-during the Spanish-American war. troops were issued canned beef, that had been left over from the Civil War (35 years previously). It was labelled the “Embalmed beef” scandal-it sounds like the meat was not very appetizing.:mad:

This. I’ve worked in manufacturing for over 20 years. The only time we build up inventory is when the market slows down and we keep building widgets to avoid layoffs.

Years ago, how dare you!

It was a few years ago, but not so long ago that supermarkets have substantially changed how they operate. This wouldn’t happen with any other kind of meat, but turkeys are only sold for a short period around Xmas (in the UK anyway), so you can’t clear out unsold inventory, on the other hand you don’t want to run out of Turkeys so there’s always some frozen turkeys that are left in the freezer.

Can’t be very old, since MRE’s were first widely used starting in 1986, only 3 decades ago.

Also, in recent years, the US has been donating MRE’s by the truckload to locations hit by natural disasters. So they aren’t as likely to have warehouses full of aging MRE’s.

Having nothing to do with soup, but interesting nevertheless, the K-Rations issued to us in 1969 were manufactured/packaged during WW II.

Not so much the MREs, but the old K- and C-rations could be decades old. I had some in the early 1970s that were from the 1950s.

MREs have a relatively short shelf life. They use to sell them at the Commissary when they were about 6-months from their best by date at once base where I was stationed. My kids loved to eat them.

Possibly, I mean, there might be some warehouse somewhere that had a stash for continuity of operations. But, I was in the Navy from 2002-2010 and the MRE’s were never more than 6 mo old. And, yes, the DoD takes MRE’s seriously as you can’t have a viable force if they are puking and shitting themselves.

Also, as a side note, these recent MRE’s have a much broader menu and are not that bad. Think stuff like canned beef strogenoef or something from a major label. Anything with eggs was just gross, I think it was the sulfur in the eggs or the preservative. A lot of the food is actually just repackaged after being further preserved from major brands. So, it did taste different.

Tidbits x2, they were a commodity on my ship. Mainly because it was something different than the boiled chicken breast (sans spices) that we’d have for weeks on end. And, you never got sick from an MRE, never. Food from the ships’ galley, dude, I almost went orbital after going to the head after one meal.

My son worked for Nalley’s foods in Tacoma before they were bought out and all manufacturing was shipped off to Iowa. He said all the meat used at that time was fresh. It was not always the highest quality cuts though.

Yes, I have done it myself. My father was in the National Guard when I was born in 1973 and snagged a bunch of surplus military stuff when he got out shortly thereafter including many cases of old-school MRE’s. I don’t know how old they were when he got them but I found them in my grandmother’s shed when I was about 12 and took them camping with me for the next few years. They were at least 15 years old by then and probably several years older. The gum was hard but chewable, I didn’t smoke the cigarettes but the matches still worked and the canned food tasted metallic but was still perfectly edible.

Canned food in a supermarket typically has a fairly quick turnaround rate from the factory to the consumer but not always. I worked in a supermarket in high school and at the headquarters of a larger chain professionally in procurement systems. Something like Campbells Chicken Noodle soup gets replenished at least several times a week but not everything is like that. Sometimes a stray can of an obscure item will be found hiding in a weird place and it generally goes right back on the shelf or at least a discount bin. It wouldn’t be unusual for some cans to be well over a year old or even much more in a convenience store.

The manufacturers and their suppliers are generally really efficient though. They know how much to produce to meet demand and that is how much they produce at any given time. Long delays in that part of the supply chain are much more rare because they already know how much to produce at any given time and don’t want excess inventory taking up space and costing them money.

In the late '70’s, while rooting around the back of my mom’s pantry, I found a can of my dad’s Ham & Lima Beans C-rations from his days in the Army Air Corps, WWll. I thought what the heck and heated it up for the family dinner.

The only one who thought it was tasty was Dad. He liked army food. His mother (my nanna), despite being a wonderful person in all other respects, was a terrible cook. Dad said he was one of the few soldiers who actually preferred army food to home cooked meals.

Nanna was also a bit of a klutz. Dad said he’d often walk home from school and see spilled groceries on the sidewalk (smashed eggs, broken jars, etc.). He’d say to his friends, “I see my mom’s been shopping again.”

I think we may have a winner.

Man eats 50 year old whole canned chicken.

Its undead it can live forever

I eat canned soup all the time

I dealt with MREs in the USAF & Army in the early 1980s. They were just in the transition from canned C-rats in our theater.

So when in the field we ate a combo of 20-ish year old Viet Nam-era C-rats and 1 year old gen-1 MREs. The average C-rats were better / tastier than the least-good MREs. And none of them had spoilage problems.

The C-rats packed better in your ruck, but were heavier. Different folks had different ideas of how to make that tradeoff.