Have you ever been perplexed by the “best by” dates on food products? If so, you’re not alone. Understanding these dates can be confusing, especially when it comes to canned goods. But fear not! We’re here to help you decipher what these dates really mean and how you can safely enjoy canned foods beyond their supposed shelf life.

Most people get this wrong and toss out the can. Here's the right way to read 'Best By' or 'Best Before' dates

What Are “Best By” Dates Anyway?

“Best by” dates are simply recommendations from the manufacturer regarding when a product is expected to be at its freshest and most flavorful. It’s important to note that these dates are not strict expiration dates. Even if the “best by” date on your canned food has passed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is no longer safe to eat.

Canned Corn: A Delicious Staple

Let’s start with canned corn. Did you know that you can still enjoy it beyond the “best by” date? As long as the can is undamaged and stored in a cool, dry place, canned corn can remain safe to eat for up to 1-2 years past its “best by” date. However, keep in mind that over time, the quality, texture, and flavor may gradually deteriorate. So, while it might still be safe to consume, it may not be as tasty as it once was. Before using it, always inspect the can for any signs of damage.

Canned Green Beans: A Nutritious Option

Similar to canned corn, green beans can also be safe to use past their “best by” date. When properly stored in a cool, dry place, canned green beans can remain good for consumption for up to 1-2 years beyond the indicated date. However, be aware that the quality may decline over time, resulting in a loss of texture and flavor. Before using canned green beans, it’s wise to check the can for any damage.

Can of Green Beans

Canned Tuna: A Versatile Delight

Now, let’s talk about canned tuna. When stored correctly, it can be safe to eat for an extended period beyond the “best by” date. In fact, canned tuna can typically remain safe for consumption for up to 3-5 years past the “best by” date. However, keep in mind that the quality of canned tuna may degrade over time. Before using it, ensure that the can shows no signs of damage or deteriorations. Also, be cautious of any changes in odor, texture, or appearance when opening the can. If anything seems off, it’s best to discard it.

Can of Tuna

Storing Canned Foods: Handy Tips

To make the most out of the shelf life of your canned foods, here are some storage tips to keep in mind:

Can Storage Tips
  • Cool and Dry: Store canned goods in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
  • Upright Position: Keep the cans in an upright position to prevent damage to the seals.
  • First-In-First-Out: Rotate your canned food stock by using older items first and placing newer purchases at the back.
  • Avoid Damage: Avoid denting or damaging cans, as this can compromise their seal and safety.
  • Refrigerate Leftovers: For short-term storage, consider transferring any leftover canned food to a sealed container and refrigerating it.

To sum it up, “best by” dates on canned foods are not strict expiration dates. They simply indicate the recommended peak quality of the product. Canned corn, green beans, and tuna can often be safely consumed even after their “best by” dates, as long as they are stored correctly and show no signs of damage or spoilage. Trust your judgment and discard any canned product that appears compromised or has an unusual odor, texture, or appearance. By following proper storage practices and regularly inspecting your canned goods, you can reduce food waste and make the most of your pantry staples.