It's only two years past expiration how bad can it be for me?
April 2, 2013 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Am I gonna die if I eat my beef stew? I ran out of tomato paste and used an old can of tomato sauce. Just added a tablespoon or so and poured the rest out in the sink. It's then that I noticed that the expiration on the tomato sauce was two years ago.

If it helps. Can was not rusted and the stuff I poured in the sink looked fine. The can did have a smell after I rinsed it but nothing awful. Kind of like I would expect canned tomatoes to smell.

Just looking to put my mind at ease hopefully. Its a huge pot of stew it would be a shame to toss it.
posted by WickedPissah to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's fine. Tomatoes are very acidic. I vote: eat it.
posted by amanda at 4:22 PM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: Also I might add there are two cups of red wine in there too.
posted by WickedPissah at 4:24 PM on April 2, 2013

It's then that I noticed that the expiration on the tomato sauce was two years ago.

I'm sorry about your stew, and I'm generally not fussy about such things, but in this case I would toss it. Two years is a long time, even in tomato years.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:32 PM on April 2, 2013

Best answer: Things in cans don't go bad for years. Many, many years. To the point that the can would have to say something like "buy war bonds!" on it for me to not eat it.

If you google around on this, it's sort of like the expiration dates on bottled water. it really, really doesn't mean much. I can't really think of anything safer than canned stuff, especially since it's not even canned fish/meat or anything.

I've eaten 10+ year old canned things several times with absolutely no ill effects.
posted by emptythought at 4:41 PM on April 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

Best answer: My Mom kept can goods in the cupboard for years and we turned out fine. If it passed the smell test, it will be fine. Enjoy your stew!
posted by hamandcheese at 4:48 PM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: Phew thanks all. I actually just found some more info about how it's sealed from the elements and therefore the only real concern is generally degradation in quality/taste.

Tonight....we will STEW!
posted by WickedPissah at 4:52 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, my reaction was "two years - where is the problem?" My pantry is a candidate for some historical study along the lines of 'Evolution of packaged food since 1970', so as you might guess I take a pretty pragmatic approach to these questions. If it looks ok, smells ok, it probably is ok.
posted by GeeEmm at 6:03 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

As long as the can/bottle was not bulging and did not explode when you opened it is probably ok. I think the quality degrades, but it will not kill you. I ate some ancient baked beans (5 years past due), they were kind of mushy, but tasted ok and I did not get sick.
posted by fifilaru at 6:41 PM on April 2, 2013

Not really an answer, but to complement all the "eat it!" votes, here's a recent piece on aging canned stuff.
posted by Su at 8:07 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eat it, but in the future, 1TBS of tomato sauce isn't going to add much character to pot of stew. Tomato paste is much more concentrated.
posted by Good Brain at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2013

Update: did you live?
posted by amanda at 9:49 PM on April 4, 2013

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