Canned food provides nutrition and convenience in a fast-paced world. It also provides a sense of security during times of hardship and disaster. Natural or human disasters often prevent people from going to the market to buy food. An emergency, long-lasting food supply keeps stranded people fed and healthy. Before buying an emergency food supply, however, you should know how long different types of canned foods last.


Canned meats provide a long-lasting source of protein. Although freeze-dried meats provide the best source for stored protein-rich foods, the canned variety comes in second, according to food safety specialists Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., and Judy Harrison, Ph.D., from the University of Georgia Department of Food and Nutrition.


Low acidic foods, like most vegetables, last between two and five years in cans stored in cool dry places, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This does not include tomatoes.


Fish also has a low acidic level and can last between two and five years in an undamaged can stored in a cool place, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once the can is opened, the fish lasts three to four days in the refrigerator.

Highly Acidic Foods

Although acidic foods don’t last as long as meat in a can, they are usable for 12 to 18 months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says. These include foods such as tomatoes, pineapple and grapefruit.