A Guide to Expiration Dates
Can Cans Last Forever?
No, they can’t.
According to the USDA, high-acid canned goods, like tomatoes and citrus fruits, will keep for up to 1½ years. Low-acid canned goods—that’s pretty much everything else, including vegetables, meat, and fish—will last for up to 5 years. Canned foods are sterile, so they won’t host bacteria, but eventually the taste and texture of the items inside will deteriorate. Keep them at room temperature in a dark place, like a cabinet or a pantry. Of course, there’s no way to find out whether a canned food has gone south unless you open it, so if you can’t remember when you bought it and want to err on the safe side, throw it out (and replace it before hurricane season starts). And toss any cans that are bulging and leaking or that spurt liquid when opened. Although the toxin that causes botulism is extremely rare in commercial canned goods, damaged cans have a higher chance of being contaminated.
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