Most canned foods will sit safely on your shelf for years and you will still be able to eat them, regardless of what the date says. You know that you can only keep meats or vegetables for a few days to a week (with some exceptions). But certain types of foods are more shelf-stable than others. Studies show that the BPA in canned food can migrate from the can’s lining into the food it contains. It is a Best By or a Sell By date. So, the short answer is, yes, you can eat canned foods that have expired, because the ‘expiration date’ is not an expiration date at all, but simply a best-by date or a sell-by date. Maybe you have a can of vegetables in your cabinet that has been there for years. A can or lid that shows signs of corrosion. Do canned foods really spoil that quickly? Confusion over these dates cause a great deal of food waste! You’ve probably said to yourself many times, after opening an old can, “it seems fine.” Well, that’s usually because it is fine, especially if “fine” means safe. anonymous on November 17, 2012: No. How long does canned ravioli last after being frozen and thawed? This means that a can of tomatoes, for example, will not last much past eighteen months while a can of green beans could last years (and years?). In general, you know that if it is past its expiration date, it is not going to be good. That doesn’t, however, mean that canned goods can’t ever expire. The roast veal contained no gas, as it had a small leak. The date is not past on this particular image and is used as an example of such a date only. "These (expiration) dates help consumers choose the freshest and safest foods available," said Taub-Dix. It is a choice of the manufacturer. To avoid making yourself sick with canned foods that have spoiled, watch out for these signs of a spoiled product: A bulging can or lid, or a broken seal. The 40 year old can of corn was from 1934, and had been found in a California basement. Read on if you want the full explanation. Obviously, dates are not mandatory. Perhaps, people still believe (or hope) that foods packed this way can last forever , but we have to disappoint you, friends: canned tuna does go bad. Cans are coated with an interior lining that prevents the can's metal from coming in direct contact with its contents. These cans dated from the early 1800’s when, unlike the average food can today, food was packed in cans which held over seven pounds of food. Yet, there are countless shelf stable foods in your pantry. Notice that neither of these says not safe to consume or even expiration. “When I think ‘zombie apocalypse bunker,’ I think canned food,” said Emily Peterson, a chef instructor at New York City's Institute of Culinary Education. But even then, it takes years for that to happen. The great amount of dissolved tin in the cans was deemed enough to make a person sick, for example. Also, if you open the can and a lot of pressure is released, such as you hear a lot of hissing, do NOT eat the food. If it smells bad don’t eat it. Probably not. If the outside of the can is dented, there’s a good chance the interior lining is compromised as well. Other examples are pineapples and other high acid fruit, canned chili, sauerkraut, and the aforementioned soups, especially ones with an acid such as tomatoes. However, I want to be clear on something: A bad smell doesn’t automatically mean it will make you sick. The oldest analyzed was a can of roast veal dating from 1823, manufacured by Donkin’s company, which makes it basically as old as any canned food can be. Aseptically packaged milk (the shelf-stable kind in cartons) will not last indefinitely. Is it swollen? They had the characteristic odor of rancid nut oil. Some canned foods last longer than others, so don't ignore the expiration dates. With spring just around the corner, it's probably a good idea to go through your pantry and do a little decluttering. The third container, from 1900, contained the plum pudding (or ‘Christmas pudding) thought to be in the first can. Throw it out! Thank you for the tips. Highly acidic foods will not hold up as long as less acidic foods. The carbon dioxide, in the plum pudding, may have been due to the baking soda or some other leavening agent. If a date is shown, there must be an explanation for the date immediately adjacent to it. If it smells funny, it is probably not going to taste good. Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World. Canned foods are under a vacuum. Let the appearance, your nose, and the taste of the food be your guide, but remember that the kinds of pathogens that cause food poisoning are not the same kinds of bacteria that are responsible for the smell of foods going bad. These quite old cans had been family relics and were given to the association by private individuals for research purposes.