Shelf Life of Canned Meats
First, you should take note that we are talking about the shelf life of commercially canned meat, in particular, our Grabill Country Meats, which we consider to be the highest quality canned meats you can buy. We only carry this one brand of canned meat for a reasonbecause we think it has the best flavor and is the most wholesome product available. We would not sell any product that we would not feed to our own families.
Home-canned food, particularly meats, and depending upon the canning method used, will usually be considered safe for 1 to 5 years, though the recommendation is to use it within a year. Storage is critical when it comes to home-canned food safety. Preserved in clear glass, the amount of light the jars are subject to and temperature fluctuations can greatly affect the quality. Basically, as long as the seal is still intact, it should still be good to eat. You can test the seal on home-canned foods by pressing gently in the middle of the lid. If the seal is still intact, it will not pop back up against your fingeryou should not hear a metallic popping sound when you depress the center. The color can change somewhat, which is even true of commercially canned foods, with no microbial contamination taking place. The flavor may suffer a little and over time some of the vitamins may be diminished, but the food will be safe to eat.
Studies over the last number of years have discovered that commercially canned food found on a sunken steamboat in the silt at the bottom of the Missouri River is still safe for human consumption, something the chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) did not expect to find. The canned foods found on the Steamboat Bertrand included canned oysters! There is also an example of the same organization analyzing a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement of a California home. It was found to be contaminant-free, with very little nutrient loss, while the kernels looked and smelled like recently canned corn.
All canned foods will have a best by or a use by date on them as required by Federal regulations, but we are throwing away an awful lot of food that is still flavorful, healthy and perfectly safe to eat, just because of the date on the can. The FDA and other food experts have suggested that we use our common senses (sight, smell and taste) to determine the safety of our canned meats, which includes looking at the condition of the can. Dented, punctured or rusted cans should be discarded.
Stop throwing your hard-earned money away unnecessarily. Canned meat shelf life is much, MUCH longer than we might think.