You have some cans of spam in your pantry and are wondering what their shelf life is. This article will help you to answer this and other related questions.
Do spam and other canned meat products expire? What is their shelf life? How soon after expiry can I safely consume spam? How long can I keep spam in my pantry?
While most canned foods will last indefinitely as long as the can is in good condition, canned meats retain their quality from two to five years. Kept in a cool, dark place, spam can be consumed indefinitely. However, spam from cans with signs of damage such as dents and holes is unsafe to eat.
In this article, we will delve further into the shelf life of spam, look into how spam and other canned meats go bad and explore the health consequences of eating expired spam. We shall also provide you with tips for storing your spam safely in order to prevent damage to the cans and subsequent health problems.
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Canned meats like spam are popular the world over because of their versatility, long shelf life and ease of use. Spam is a tasty, affordable and shelf stable food that is a staple in many pantries. There are hundreds of spam brands and flavors available in the market today so you will not lack for a tasty option to whip up a quick meal for your family at any given time.
Because it is a meat product, you may be jittery about storing spam for long periods of time. You may be asking; what is spam’s shelf life? Does it go bad? Can I use spam after the expiry date? What are the health risks associated with using expired spam? How do I store my spam properly? If you are looking for the answers to these questions, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is spam’s shelf life?
Spam is a protein rich ingredient used to add flavor to many meals. Spam is great in sandwiches, stir fries, burgers, omelets, tacos and others. It is also used widely in the preparation of warming soups during winter. It is a popular camping food due to its versatility and ease of use, allowing hikers, campers, picnickers and other nature lovers to whip up filling meals in no time.
Spam is used widely in emergency situations such as natural disasters and wars thanks to its ease of use and longevity. Thanks to its popularity, spam is produced in many different flavors including: bacon, turkey, ham, chorizo, spicy, cheese and others. It has a high nutritional content, containing high levels of protein, sodium, zinc, potassium, iron and other minerals.
Thanks to the high quality preservatives used in SPAM, it does not have an actual expiration date. Instead, it has a best by date. This is simply the date by which you should consume your spam in order to enjoy maximum flavor and quality. For most spam products, this is between two to five years from the date of manufacture.
Ideally, SPAM should be consumed by the third year from its manufacture. After this, you will experience a considerable reduction in quality, texture and taste. To avoid this, always ensure you consume your spam as soon as possible. A good rule of thumb is to use the first in first out system (FIFO) to ensure that you consume the spam you bought first in order to avoid spoiling.
Does spam go bad?
Since spam has no expiration date, it can go for many years without spoiling. The only thing that will be affected is its quality and taste. However, poor storage, exposure to high temperatures and dents in the can will cause spam to spoil faster. Signs that your spam has gone bad include; dome shaped lid instead of flat, corroded lids, rancid smell, leaking contents and moldy appearance.
Once your spam starts to go bad, you will notice a funny smell in your pantry as well as a slimy texture whenever you handle it. After this, it is only a matter of time before you start experiencing health problems, especially if you make the mistake of consuming the spoiled spam.
Can I eat spam after its expiry date?
Spam has a number of ingredients that ensure that it does not spoil for a very long time. There have even been examples of spam lasting up to twenty years. By this time, its taste has been severely depleted and you will be lucky if your cat agrees to eat it.
Sodium nitrite is responsible for spam’s longevity. It works by preventing the oxidation of fats and lipids in the spam and stops bacteria from entering and spoiling your spam. As a result, spam can be eaten after its best by date since it technically has no expiration date. However, ensure that you consume it no later than two to three years after its expiry date in order to ensure maximum taste and nutrition.
What health risks are associated with eating expired/spoiled spam?
Due to its unspecified expiry date, it is not possible to get sick from eating expired spam. Even if you eat, it a few years after its best by date, the worst thing you are likely to experience is probably a gross taste and a reduction in nutrition. You can safely eat spam for as long as specified on the label.
Spoiled spam, on the other hand, is a serious health hazard. You put yourself at risk of experiencing the following health problems if you eat spoiled spam:
- Botulism: This is a serious illness that is caused by bacteria found in improperly canned foods or spoiled meats. Left untreated, it can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system and even lead to death. Symptoms of botulism include; blurred vision, muscle weakness and difficulty swallowing.
To reduce your risk for botulism, avoid eating spam and other canned meat products with visible signs of damage or spoilage. These include; leaky, dented, bulging or cracked cans as well as a moldy appearance and rotten smell.
- Food poisoning: Improper storage of spam, especially after opening, can lead to food poisoning and other gastrointestinal problems. Spam should be stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days after opening. After this, any unused spam should be discarded to avoid health problems.
How do I store my spam properly?
Proper storage of spam is essential to ensuring that it serves you for many years, retains its favor and quality and that it does not spoil. Storage best practice includes: storing the cans in a cool dark place in order to prevent oxidation of lipids, avoiding freezing spam as this can cause the seal to break leading to leakage, keeping it away from walls and concrete surfaces.
In addition, ensure that you always refrigerate your spam once it’s open. You can do this by placing it in an airtight bag or Tupperware container and popping it into your fridge. This will help to prevent bacteria from getting into your spam, spoiling it and causing health problems. Finally, ensure that you only store spam in the fridge for a maximum of ten days.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker