You can feel safe stocking up on canned foods from the grocery store for longer-term storage. Canned commercial food remains safe for years, although the taste and nutritional quality may suffer after time.
Most canned foods in grocery stores have dates stamped on them indicating when they will provide the best quality and taste, but few have true expiration dates, notes the Canned Food Alliance on its Mealtime.org website. Commercial canning processes use heat to kill organisms that would cause spoilage, so intact cans keep food edible and safe virtually forever, the alliance notes. Peak flavor and nutrition remain for about two years, however.
Keep canned goods away from heat and moisture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises they don’t be stored near a stove or sink, or in a damp area. Foods with a lot of acid, such as fruit or tomatoes, are best used up within a year and a half, while other canned foods remain good quality for much longer, the federal agency notes.
Throw canned foods away if the can leaks or bulges. This indicates spoilage or bacterial contamination according to the Canned Food Alliance. Dents or rust that do not cause leaks will not damage the food inside.
References and ResourcesMealtime.org: Frequently Asked Questions About Canned Foods
U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Food Safety: Food Storage, Preparation & Handling