FAQ

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Q

Can you use canned food such as soups and vegetables past their use by date and if so how far past can you use them. How long does home canned fruits keep their nutional value?

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A

Shelf life dates are created for two reasons (a) safety and (b) quality.  As long as the cans are sealed and have not been subjected to high heat or freezing, they will remain commercially sterile and safe.  Quality is a different story.  The quality shelf life is set by the manufacturer.  It is usually the date when the food no longer tastes as good as the original. After the shelf life date certain foods will still retain quality and others will not.  You will have to sample some to find out.  After opening visually check the food and smell the contents.  If anything looks out of the ordinary, discard it.  I opened a five year old can of mushrooms packed in water and they smelled awful.  It was a chemical degradation of the mushroom.  Similarly, I opened a six year old can of pears in lite brine.  They were exceptional.  Most canned foods will retain all of their nutritional value (calories, protein, minerals), except vitamins.  Most likely all of the vitamins degraded and will not offer nutritional benefit. Cooperative Extension recommends that you store canned goods for less than five years.

Posted on 26 Sep 2007

Sarah Oldroyd
Family & Consumer Science and IFCS Agent, Salt Lake County

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