Q:

What is the shelf life of canned foods in the fridge?

A:

Quick Answer

If canned food has already been opened, it should be consumed within two days if it is stored in the refrigerator. Unopened cans can be stored in the fridge for longer periods, but not so long that rust forms on the can.

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What is the shelf life of canned foods in the fridge?
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Full Answer

Storing canned foods in the refrigerator over long periods of time may cause steel cans to rust due to condensation, perhaps leading to small holes in the cans that destroy the protective seal around the food. However, chilling canned juices, fruits and other canned foods for short periods is safe. As long as the cans are used promptly, the seal in the cans remains intact, and the food should be safe to eat.

Unlike sodas cans, which are made of aluminum, canned foods are packaged in sheet steel cans which can rust as condensation collects on them in the fridge. Because nicks and digs can expose bare metal—and even tiny holes can let bacteria into a can—discard any can that has begun to rust. Even if cans don’t bloat and spew when opened, it’s still possible that the food has spoiled. Contaminated food can even smell and taste fine.

Because most canned food is manufactured to be shelf-stable, it’s best stored in cupboards. There, as long as cans remain factory-sealed, the food inside should be safe to eat for up to two years.

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