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How long does (actual, canned) spam really last?
August 9, 2005 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I found a can of spam in the trunk of my car which, I think, was purchased in 1996. I wondered: Is it still safe to eat? Me-Fites: How old was the oldest can of spam you ever ate? Is it true that spam's shelf life is "indefinite?". Is it a good idea to keep cans of spam in my car/boat/cabin for emergencies (I'm stranded in a blizzard and need meat, etc)? If so, should I worry that extended bouts exposed to high temperatures (100+ degrees F) in my car trunk will reduce the shelf life of these cans of spam?
posted by zenorbital to Food & Drink (22 answers total)
 
I think as long as the vacuum is still good, it's ok. then again I am one who quite enjoys trying questionable meats, so...
posted by dorian at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2005


This site claims that canned meat has an indefinite shelf life.
posted by Carbolic at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2005


Hormel claims that the safe shelf life is indefinite but that the flavor will suffer over time.
posted by caddis at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2005


Open it up and smell it, then take a small bite and wait a few hours, you'll have your answer.

Higher heat always reduces shelf life, what ever that shelf-life maybe. If you are going to store food in a vehicle for emergencies your best bet is probably something like a power-bar because regardless of whether something is safe to eat, the constant heating and cooling it would experience in a vehicle will make it taste like crap. Beer, for instance, goes skunky when is heated and cooled a few times. It is still safe to drink but you wouldn't want to.
posted by 517 at 1:58 PM on August 9, 2005


I suggest turning it into a family heirloom, to be enjoyed by a later generation.
posted by mosch at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Indefinite != "forever", Indefinite = "unclear"
posted by raedyn at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2005


Just a note about Power Bars - when cold they get hard and very sharp. I know someone who cut his nose with a Power Bar on a mountaineering trip (it needed stiches - and yes, it was embarassing for him to tell the story). So warm it up in your armpit before you open/eat.
posted by dbmcd at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2005


Is it a good idea to keep cans of spam in my car/boat/cabin for emergencies (I'm stranded in a blizzard and need meat, etc)?

No. There's an argument that it's a good idea to keep some assortment of canned goods (soups, vegetables- they all last a LONG time), but SPAM is one of the most unhealthy things you can eat.

And, BTW, you never "need" meat. You need protein, but I really down SPAM has an appreciable amount of that.
posted by mkultra at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2005


You need protein, but I really down SPAM has an appreciable amount of that.

Yeah, Spam is only 33% protein. What a well-researched and well-informed answer, mkultra. Thanks for the little preachy bit you threw in there, too. Perhaps you'd recommend celery and carrots during a blizzard, but I'd prefer food that is calorie-dense for such a time. Spam wouldn't be my first choice, but it's certainly not the worst one.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:48 PM on August 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


Just to be pedantic...

Indefinite != "forever", Indefinite = "unclear"

Indefinite != "forever", Indefinite == "unclear"
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:15 PM on August 9, 2005


I recommend keeping a jar of hard candy in the car for blizzards. Doesn't spoil. I'd keep chocolate for emergencies, but with chocolate, being in a bad mood is an emergency, so it never lasts.

In winter, I keep a sleeping bag, a few candles, matches, and some bottled water in the car. It makes me feel adventurous. Spam, and other fine brands of potted meat product, does not make me feel adventurous.
posted by theora55 at 5:05 PM on August 9, 2005


I've heard that it (or any canned food) is finally and unquestionably unsafe when the can's ballooned out or if it vents out gas when you open it.
posted by boo_radley at 7:11 PM on August 9, 2005


"Spam, and other fine brands of potted meat product, does not make me feel adventurous."

You're kidding, right? I would totally feel like I was tempting death to eat any of that crap.

And yes, " ... when the can's ballooned out or if it vents out gas ..." is a really, really good indicator of its edibility.

On the other hand, I toss anything out of the pantry that's reached its expiration date (if it has one).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:30 PM on August 9, 2005


I've heard that it (or any canned food) is finally and unquestionably unsafe when the can's ballooned out or if it vents out gas when you open it.

botulism, though it's really an overreaction, since only 110 people die a year from it.

No. There's an argument that it's a good idea to keep some assortment of canned goods (soups, vegetables- they all last a LONG time), but SPAM is one of the most unhealthy things you can eat.

And, BTW, you never "need" meat. You need protein, but I really down SPAM has an appreciable amount of that.


Thank you for your continued anti-meat proselytization.
posted by angry modem at 7:44 PM on August 9, 2005


Yeah, if it's ballooned out, don't eat it... there's bacteria growing inside. (But on the other hand, you'll have a nice smooth forehead if you do eat it. no not really)

Otherwise, have at it. Or mail it to this guy.
posted by strikhedonia at 7:46 PM on August 9, 2005


Just to be pedantic...

Indefinite != "forever", Indefinite = "unclear"


A true pedant would suggest you to stick to English.
posted by caddis at 8:43 PM on August 9, 2005


True story: I was given a can of Norwegian spam (called Bog!) in early 1997, and until recently was using it as a doorstop in my bedroom. Last Sunday, while on the phone to a friend, I accidentally stepped on the can and ruptured it. A trickle of clear liquid came out; astonishingly, it didn't smell like death. It smelt, pretty much, like 'spiced ham'. Further investigation of the Bog was, however, hampered by my mortal terror. I ran outside and threw it in the bin.

Sorry I can't be of more help, but it would seem that eight-year-old spam is probably fine to eat. Eight-year-old spam that's been cooked in a hot car boot, though? Maybe not so much, but that's just a gut feeling.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:47 PM on August 9, 2005


Fine, aged spam is a treat, but the #1 survival food is Peanut Butter. Don't forget to pack a spoon.
posted by Mack Twain at 9:29 PM on August 9, 2005


Higher heat always reduces shelf life, what ever that shelf-life maybe.

Doesn't the canning process itself involve high heat?
posted by smackfu at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2005


Survival tidbit:
Pound for pound, dry dog food is the way to go. 100 lbs of dry dog food has more caloric value than a ton of potatoes. (I sniped this off of the hacker diet mefi link last week)
posted by daddymax at 12:12 PM on August 10, 2005


Yeah, Spam is only 33% protein. What a well-researched and well-informed answer, mkultra. Thanks for the little preachy bit you threw in there, too.

Yeah, well, sorry I didn't run out and check. And what preachy bit? The SPAM is horrible for you? That you don't "need" meat?

Thank you for your continued anti-meat proselytization.

Uh, what? I love meat. I've posted often regarding my love of it.

Look, children, I said something that is a fact. Nothing more. I'm a huge fan of meat, but if it's coming down to survival, you need to deal with reality.

Stop being so f'ing oversensitive.
posted by mkultra at 6:22 PM on August 12, 2005


Yeah, well, sorry I didn't run out and check.

Here. Sometimes if you don't know the answer, it's best to remain silent rather than be completely wrong.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:47 PM on August 14, 2005


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