Canned food past its best before date – what’s the score?

Just spent an afternoon discarding the contents of lots of canned goods ranging from 1998 to March 2010. But what really is the score? Out of date tins and particularly herbs and spices are big offenders in the decluttering world so do we need to get rid of everything even if it is just a month out of date. After a bit of hunting no one seems to be prepared to stick their neck on the line and give a definitive answer. Of course, the retailers and manufacturers want consumers to stick rigidly to the Best Before dates for obvious reasons but consumers are generally not in agreement. Comments and articles I have read range from people adhering strictly to the BB guidelines to others eating Wartime (yes, the one in the 40s) mandarins and enjoying them. Eeww! Not for me but each to their own. The rule of thumb for those happy to go with out of date goods is to use a smell and taste test. Dented and rusty items are a definite no no and need to go straight for recycling. There have been instances of cans with bulges needing a bomb disposal team to open and deal with so be careful!

So how do I avoid out of date goods in my kitchen?

Don’t bulk buy. BOGOFs and the like are a tried and tested method of the supermarkets getting the consumer to buy more than we need. Don’t fall for it. Shop smartly.

Have a week where you don’t shop at all. Use up the contents of your cupboards, freezer etc. The internet makes it easy for us. You can just put in a list of ingredients and up will pop recipes you can try.

Always Rotate. Whenever you shop, pull items forward in the same way they do in the supermarket to make sure you are using the oldest first.

Declutter your cupboards- as you spring clean, pre-Christmas clean or ‘whenever you get around to it clean’, make a habit of checking dates on cans and discarding those that you will never eat.

Finally, if that tin of Borlotti beans has been there for two years, ten years or twenty years and you have not chosen to eat it yet, do you think you ever will?


One thought on “Canned food past its best before date – what’s the score?

  1. You just wasted a lot of perfectly good food. Unless the can is dented or rusted, the contents of it will last indefinitely. Even the FSA says that they will last for up to twenty years.


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