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Spoilage in canned food products
Colorado State University Extension ^ | 2008 | Stephanie Hoffman

Posted on 08/01/2013 5:31:14 PM PDT by djf

SPOILAGE IN CANNED FOOD PRODUCTS

By: Stephanie Hoffman, CSU Food Science Graduate Student - Fall 2008

The safety of commercially canned foods is generally not of concern to consumers, but recent national recalls of canned chili products and institutional-size cans of vegetables due to potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum is a reminder that store-bought canned goods can be implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks. These were the first recalls of commercially canned foods in the U.S. linked to botulism in 33 years and improper processing that allowed the survival of C. botulinum spores appears to have been the cause. Home canners and commercial manufacturers both rely on time-tested processes to insure the inactivation of this deadly microorganism. Proper cooking temperatures, times and pressure, along with well-maintained equipment are all necessary to prevent the survival of C. botulinum.

How can consumers help protect themselves? One important way is to look for signs of spoilage and to immediately discard any canned foods that are suspected of being spoiled.

Here are the terms used in the industry to describe canned foods with signs of spoilage:

Soft Swell: A can that is bulged on both ends, but not so tightly that the ends can't be pushed in somewhat with a thumb press.

Hard Swell: A can that is so tightly bulged on both ends that the ends can't be pressed in. A can with a hard swell will generally "buckle" before it bursts.

Flipper: A can whose end normally looks flat, but "flips out" when struck sharply on one end.

Springer: A can with one end bulged out. With sufficient pressure, this end will flip in, but the other end will flip out.

Leaker: A can with a crack or hole in the container that has caused leakage.

Flipper and Springer cans do not always indicate microbial spoilage, but are often an indication of contamination. Soft swells, hard swells and leakers usually do represent microbial spoilage but can sometimes be caused by chemical reactions. As always, do not purchase or consume canned food products that are bulging or have packaging that appears compromised in any way. It's always better to be safe than sorry!


TOPICS: Food
KEYWORDS: cannedgoods; fda; foodsupply; preppers
I was in my storage area and noticed an odor, tracked it down to a can of spaghetti sauce that had sprung a leak. It wasn't bulging or explosive, and didn't erupt when I opened it, no off smells, but I pitched it anyways. I reviewed a bunch of the other cans, none were leaking, but on a few, the top could be pushed in a bit. So I did a bit of searching to get a better idea about cans and their conditions, figure Prepper FReepers would find it interesting.

I have had a couple cans go bad in the past, and there is/was zero doubt that they were unsafe. Bulging to the point of being explosive, bad odor when opened (a few I simply buried whole).

1 posted on 08/01/2013 5:31:14 PM PDT by djf
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To: Kartographer

prepper ping!


2 posted on 08/01/2013 5:36:08 PM PDT by djf (Rich widows: My Bitcoin address is... 1ETDmR4GDjwmc9rUEQnfB1gAnk6WLmd3n6)
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To: djf

You cannot be too careful!


3 posted on 08/01/2013 5:37:05 PM PDT by Silentgypsy (You don't like the way I drive? Stay off the sidewalk.)
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To: djf

I’ve had pretty good luck so far. Some cans I missed on rotation that were 6 years old. Still good. I have seen some swell in tomato sauce after 5 years.


4 posted on 08/01/2013 5:37:39 PM PDT by bigheadfred (INFIDEL)
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To: djf

I quit storing tomato based products for longer periods. Too acidy. Just won’t keep.


5 posted on 08/01/2013 5:38:20 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s.....you weren't really there)
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To: Silentgypsy

and sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind


6 posted on 08/01/2013 5:38:39 PM PDT by bigheadfred (INFIDEL)
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To: bigheadfred

6 months should be a safe rotation. 3 months better.


7 posted on 08/01/2013 5:43:31 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: djf

I wonder if canned food would last longer if it was irradiated


8 posted on 08/01/2013 5:43:52 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: BenLurkin

Right. But the point being many things last well beyond their best if used by date.


9 posted on 08/01/2013 5:45:31 PM PDT by bigheadfred (INFIDEL)
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To: bigheadfred

A year or so ago, I used a can of tomato sauce that was about 5 years old.

There was a noticeable “shrinkage” of the product, it was about 3/4 of an inch down from the rim. I take that to mean that even in professionally canned products, they cannot practically seal it against a bit of water loss.

Results?

Smelled fine, cooked up fine, angel hair pasta and garlic bread, some olives, it was a feast!

I was always under the impression that tomato products were, in general, too acid to have botulism.
But acidity by itself is not enough of an indicator. I had a can of mandarin oranges start to swell, so those got pitched.

Of course not all food contamination is necessarily botulism.


10 posted on 08/01/2013 5:46:11 PM PDT by djf (Rich widows: My Bitcoin address is... 1ETDmR4GDjwmc9rUEQnfB1gAnk6WLmd3n6)
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To: djf

The problem with botulism is it doesn’t smell bad or taste bad, and cooking won’t neutralize the poison it produces.

I worked for a major hotel chain and it was a firing offense to buy mushrooms canned in China. Those are the most likely to have botulism.... both because the mushrooms are not acid, and because the chinese don’t have the same standards we have for canning.


11 posted on 08/01/2013 5:46:14 PM PDT by Grammy (He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that they cannot carry out their plans. Job 5:12)
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To: GraceG

It would. But they would have to bury you 12 feet deep to somewhat dim your inner glow...

Just kidding. They have been doing it for years.


12 posted on 08/01/2013 5:48:00 PM PDT by bigheadfred (INFIDEL)
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To: djf

So basically, if the can looks or acts like A. Weiner, throw it away.


13 posted on 08/01/2013 5:50:22 PM PDT by BerryDingle (I know how to deal with communists, I still wear their scars on my back from Hollywood-Ronald Reagan)
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To: djf

Right. I pitch anything that doesn’t look right. I just made 12 pints of nanking cherry jelly and 8 quarts of syrup.


14 posted on 08/01/2013 5:52:44 PM PDT by bigheadfred (INFIDEL)
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To: djf

A few years ago I had several cans that showed bulging. Strangely, one was large can of sliced apples and another was a can of apple pie filling.

I toss any bulging cans.


15 posted on 08/01/2013 5:53:57 PM PDT by TomGuy (.)
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To: djf

A couple of days ago I was making a cheeseburger and for some reason got a whiff of the Kraft Mayonnaise. It had just a bit of spoiled smell. Not that bad but just enough I was suspicious.

I looked at the use by date and it was a few months past it. That really surprised me as my refrigerator is right about 34 degrees. As luck would have it, I had just bought another jar as this one was getting towards empty.

I looked at the date on the new one and it was only good for about 7 more months. I will have to start checking closer.


16 posted on 08/01/2013 5:56:07 PM PDT by yarddog (Romans 8: verses 38 and 39. "For I am persuaded".)
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To: djf

Watch out buttulinum - bad meat in the can.


17 posted on 08/01/2013 5:58:37 PM PDT by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: yarddog

Food in the fridge is generally safe - but not always.

Most bacteria go into almost a suspended animation at that temp, if not just outright croak.

Listeria isn’t one of those! Listeria is happy as a clam at temps of 40 degrees or less!

AFAIK, listeria is almost never fatal. But it might make you wish U wur dead!


18 posted on 08/01/2013 6:01:33 PM PDT by djf (Rich widows: My Bitcoin address is... 1ETDmR4GDjwmc9rUEQnfB1gAnk6WLmd3n6)
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To: Grammy
The problem with botulism is it doesn’t smell bad or taste bad, and cooking won’t neutralize the poison it produces.

Boiling for 10 minutes will inactivate the botulin toxin. At higher elevations, I would use a pressure cooker to make sure the heat is sufficient to kill the toxin.

Home canned non-acidic foods (like beans or meat) should *always* be cooked as if they are contaminated with C. botulinum.

19 posted on 08/01/2013 6:03:52 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: djf
Flippers, springers, swellers, leakers and hard swellers in stored cans...brings back memories of inspecting warehouses of K Rations stored before the Korean War that were in military warehouses. Inspecting those rations was like opening a time capsule. The cigarettes were the old Camel and Lucky Strikes and were in the packet with the P-38s. We inspected lot after lot according to the statistical methods and had a pile of cans, cigarettes and gum over ten feet high. This was in the middle 1970’s. Surprisingly, most of the rations were still wholesome.
20 posted on 08/01/2013 6:10:23 PM PDT by vetvetdoug
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To: djf
Food in the fridge is generally safe - but not always.

Most bacteria go into almost a suspended animation at that temp, if not just outright croak.

Listeria isn’t one of those! Listeria is happy as a clam at temps of 40 degrees or less!

AFAIK, listeria is almost never fatal. But it might make you wish U wur dead!

Fungi love the cool temperatures of a refrigerator. So do many bacterial species.

Listeria has a case fatality rate of about 20%, and causes fetal death. Typically, people who get listeriosis are immunocompromised because of age (very young or old), pregnancy, or other medical conditions. The CDC just ran an article about listeriosis a few weeks ago.

21 posted on 08/01/2013 6:11:06 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: djf

The only case of botulism in my area that I can remember in the last twenty years was the case of an area woman who had made her own canned or glassed preserves. She opened one of her jars of carrots and tasted it. She became extremely ill and almost died. After reading about that incident, I’m careful about accepting homemade canned goods.


22 posted on 08/01/2013 6:30:26 PM PDT by driftless2
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To: djf

In the last couple of years I am having to change what I used to post about canned food, I am running into many issues, including a bunch of low sodium Spam cans that bulged well before the expiration date, Spam is supposed to last indefinitely.

I even have a bulging Tuna can from 2004, and other products like canned peppers.


23 posted on 08/01/2013 6:31:42 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Santorum appeared on CBS and pronounced George Zimmerman guilty of murder, first degree. March-2012)
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To: vetvetdoug

In ‘65 and 66 I’ve probably ate a few cases of C-Rats from the 50’s and late 40’s. Never got sick from them and they did fill the hole.


24 posted on 08/01/2013 6:32:58 PM PDT by B4Ranch (AGENDA: Grinding America Down ----- http://vimeo.com/63749370)
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To: appalachian_dweller; OldPossum; DuncanWaring; VirginiaMom; CodeToad; goosie; kalee; ...

Preppers’ PING!!

Hat tip to djf for the heads-up!


25 posted on 08/01/2013 6:39:51 PM PDT by Kartographer ("We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.")
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To: Kartographer

Thanks.

The article is actually wrong, in that there was a recall IIRC 2006-2007 for some kind of canned cheese sauce or chile... something like that. But I do remember that it was botulism.


26 posted on 08/01/2013 6:50:38 PM PDT by djf (Rich widows: My Bitcoin address is... 1ETDmR4GDjwmc9rUEQnfB1gAnk6WLmd3n6)
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To: Grammy

I try to avoid any and all foods from China, not only for me, but for my dogs.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much control over restaurants . . .


27 posted on 08/01/2013 7:01:21 PM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: ansel12

is your storage area hot?


28 posted on 08/01/2013 7:07:04 PM PDT by Donnafrflorida (Thru HIM all things are possible.)
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To: Donnafrflorida

Yes, that is what changed what I was learning about canned foods over the last two decades, on the coast nothing spoiled, here, much has.


29 posted on 08/01/2013 7:13:12 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Santorum appeared on CBS and pronounced George Zimmerman guilty of murder, first degree. March-2012)
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To: djf

“a few I simply buried whole”

And a few centuries from now, an archaelogist will dig them up and conclude that the American civilization declined from eating botulism-ridden canned goods.


30 posted on 08/01/2013 7:21:29 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: ansel12

Maybe the low sodium is a contributing factor? Most bacterium don’t like salt one bit.


31 posted on 08/01/2013 7:25:38 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: djf

Coming from a country background with a Lot of home canning in glass jars, there are stories of finding stashes of canned (jars, not cans) goods fifteen and twenty years old that have been perfectly preserved. Not recommended, of course, but I never think anything about opening a can of green beens three years old that was home processed. It’s a simple enough procedure and is a satisfying hobby!


32 posted on 08/01/2013 7:29:07 PM PDT by Mamzelle
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To: Boogieman

The Spam went so quickly that it must have been a plant foul up, it was well within it’s best by date.

I too, couldn’t help but notice that it was low sodium.

My bacon Spam is just fine.


33 posted on 08/01/2013 7:34:05 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Santorum appeared on CBS and pronounced George Zimmerman guilty of murder, first degree. March-2012)
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To: Mamzelle

My mom and I both can jam the same way: Cook it, jar it, tip the jars over for a few minutes, tip them back up, and voila! We don’t even put them in a water bath canner. I’ve never had a jar of jam spoil. Everything else gets the proper treatment though. The only home canned food I’ve had spoil is jalapeño jelly (which I water bathed), and I think it’s from the liquid pectin. I’m not a fan of liquid pectin.


34 posted on 08/01/2013 7:41:51 PM PDT by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: bmwcyle
Watch out buttulinum - bad meat in the can.

this is a huge problem in canned ham and pressed ham
35 posted on 08/01/2013 7:53:12 PM PDT by wafflehouse (RE-ELECT NO ONE !)
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To: ansel12

Well, salt has been used for centuries as a preservative - especially for meats.

My old man used to buy this salted fish. The salt was OK... the bones, not so much!

Of course, when it’s 5 below and you are out ice fishing, yur easy to please!

;-)


36 posted on 08/01/2013 7:55:14 PM PDT by djf (Rich widows: My Bitcoin address is... 1ETDmR4GDjwmc9rUEQnfB1gAnk6WLmd3n6)
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To: djf

My can has been bulging since I turned 50...


37 posted on 08/02/2013 1:29:09 AM PDT by outofsalt ("If History teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything")
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To: Mamzelle

When Mom and Dad moved back to the family homestead in 1995, they found several cans of stuff Grandma had “put up” still in the basement. Grandma died in 1948. Of course, Mom threw out everything, but emptied the jars so they could be sterilized and reused. She said that the contents still looked and smelled fine.


38 posted on 08/02/2013 4:59:35 AM PDT by MayflowerMadam (I feel much better since I gave up hope.)
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To: Kartographer
Going to CVS drug store today for that ham.

About two weeks ago, I opened a lower cabinet door in the kitchen, this little storage space is very small. The minute I opened it, a quart glass container with a glass handle, fell out and hit the stone floor and glass went everywhere. I nearly cried - I had two of those glass quart containers and they are perfect for making instant milk and keeping it in that container with the glass handle. They have a rubber stopper and I've had those for years.

I went on Amazon to look for another one. Sure, found one, and it's well over $25. Couldn't believe it, I certainly didn't pay that those years ago. I didn't buy it. I looked at plastic containers and didn't want any of that.

At some point, I realized, except for the other glass quarter container I had, I had no quart containers. I looked on Walmart, and 12 - quart glass canning jars with lids was $10. The next time I was in Walmart, I got that box of glass quart jars. They don't have a glass handle, of course, but they are glass quart containers, 12 of them for $10.

Sometimes, you suddenly realize there is something you don't have that would be necessary or very good to have in a SHTF situation. Containers is one of them.

39 posted on 08/02/2013 6:10:31 AM PDT by Marcella ((Prepping can save your life today. I am a Christian, not a Muslim.))
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To: ansel12

I suspect the cans are bulging is because they are made very flimsy these days. Cans are so thin you can bend them with just your thumb. I check cans for dents at the store and put them in the car myself so I know they’re not being thrown around. However, when I get home, a few are dented badly every time. So badly that I have to use them immediately. Those who are stocking foods long term should rotate more often because of this.

I also worry about those items sealed with just a piece of foil such as yogurt, fruit and pet food. Those are too easily compromised. Makes you wonder if the manufacturers are adding a boatload more preservatives to make them seem safe.


40 posted on 08/02/2013 10:34:24 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill

You describe a huge drawback of the precision of modern manufacturing, there is no overbuild, no margin in many items and utensils and tools.

A manufacturer can be so precise, that he meets just exactly the point at where the minimum yet adequate meet, which of course means more failures and in almost all cases, less durability.


41 posted on 08/02/2013 10:55:59 AM PDT by ansel12 ( The difference between libertarianism and conservatism is the libertarian liberalism, not economics)
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To: djf

I always check the CVS store shelves of food items when waiting for a prescription. They occasionally have 1LB. Dak canned hams on sale for 2 for $5.00...half price (Thanks for the tip Kart!). I found them on sale this past week. However, all the cans were more or less “stuck” to the shelf because one can had leaked. I decided to pass on the whole lot rather than hunt down the leaker and assume I’d found the only one. As ‘they’ say, better safe than sorry.


42 posted on 08/03/2013 2:51:44 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (So Obama "inherited" a mess? Firemen "inherit" messes too. Ever see one put gasoline on it?)
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To: Grammy
and because the Chinese don’t have the same standards we have for canning.

Hey...there's a billion or more of them suckers over there. Why should Central Committee care if a few thousand serfs drop dead from food poisoning?

43 posted on 08/03/2013 2:56:49 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (So Obama "inherited" a mess? Firemen "inherit" messes too. Ever see one put gasoline on it?)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

I stocked up on the DAK hams a while back, got about 25 of them.

Good item to have. I imagine that barring the cans getting dented, or exposed to moisture, they will last quite a long time.


44 posted on 08/03/2013 3:10:23 PM PDT by djf (Rich widows: My Bitcoin address is... 1ETDmR4GDjwmc9rUEQnfB1gAnk6WLmd3n6)
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To: djf
they will last quite a long time.That's what I'm thinking. Looks like a good number of years on the 'sell by' date. Which means only that you'll survive the experience. Not that it's a hard limit.
45 posted on 08/03/2013 4:30:13 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (So Obama "inherited" a mess? Firemen "inherit" messes too. Ever see one put gasoline on it?)
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