Food safety for canned goods and extreme temperatures
July 20, 2005 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Is well-canned food that has sat around in extreme temperatures safe? I recently bought some canned goods, let them sit in the back seat of my car in 100+ degree temperatures, and when I went to pick them out, they were painfully hot to the touch. Would this alter their safety for consumption?
posted by wildblueyonder to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
Canned goods are heated to at least 100 deg C after they're packed to kill off bacteria. I don't think leaving canned goods in the heat would affect anything other than its taste and texture.
posted by scalespace at 5:26 PM on July 20, 2005

Shouldn't be a problem. The food inside a can is sterile. In fact, it's already been heated to a very high temperature in the process of canning.

The only danger I could think of would be if you actually heated the cans to the point where the liquid inside started to boil and the cans exploded from the resulting pressure. But you would know if that happened....
posted by mr_roboto at 5:30 PM on July 20, 2005

Yeah. No explosions or signs of weakened integrity of the cans. I've heard that heat can activate bacteria that cause spoilage... but if most canned goods are heated to 100 deg C, then I suppose a few days in my back seat wouldn't be a big issue.
posted by wildblueyonder at 5:47 PM on July 20, 2005

I worked in a grocery store while in college and we routinely had non-refrigerated trucks parked for hours in the 100+ heat awaiting our unloading them. The cans came from our semi-air conditioned warehouse. Before they made it to the warehouse they were shipped either by rail or some other non-refrigerated truck for hundreds or thousands of miles. I don't think your car could do worse than the trip getting to you.
posted by busboy789 at 6:04 PM on July 20, 2005

As long as they're not punctured or bulging, I'd think they'd be fine.
posted by Vidiot at 8:40 PM on July 20, 2005

Makes you wonder about the nutritive value after all that cooking.

Isn't there an urban myth about an exploding can in a backseat and someone thinking they'd been shot?
posted by mecran01 at 8:49 PM on July 20, 2005

mecran01 - The Biscuit Bullet. (Caveat: Snopes, popups)
posted by brownpau at 9:29 PM on July 20, 2005

What Vidiot said with just the general addition of rust on the can as a red flag. It's still our best & safest food preserving method.
posted by peacay at 9:35 PM on July 20, 2005

Thanks, peacay. I had my husband throw out a can of creamed corn that had rust on the lid. I knew I was right!
posted by deborah at 11:23 AM on July 21, 2005

heh deborah - it's just a general rule of thumb - I'd probably try it myself if there isn't too much rust sort of thing. Thank gawd we can rely on our senses.
posted by peacay at 11:54 AM on July 21, 2005

« Older Is depression contagious?   |   Running and Biking Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.