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Practices -- Storage

How long can one keep commercially canned foods? Is there an expiration date on canned goods?

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In general, most canned foods have a long "life" and when properly stored, are safe to eat for several years. Low-acid canned foods can be safely stored for between 2 and 5 years. Low-acid canned foods include canned meat and poultry, stews, soups except tomato, pasta products, potatoes, corn, carrots, spinach, beans, beets, peas and pumpkin High-acid canned foods can be safely stored for between 12 and 18 months. High-acid canned foods include tomato products, fruits, sauerkraut and foods in vinegar-based sauces or dressings Some canned hams are shelf-stable. To determine if a ham is shelf-stable, read the label. Never store ham or any foods labeled "KEEP REFRIGERATED" at room temperature. These foods must be stored in the refrigerator.

SOURCE: Food Marketing Institute

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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