Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the correct way to store unopened canned and bottled products?
A: Store unopened can products and shelf-stable bottled products off the floor in a pantry or in a cool, clean and dry place. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
Q: How long can I store an unopened food product?
A: Unopened canned products usually last up to two years, if the can remains intact. Food products other than canned products may contain a “best-if-used-by” date which can give you guidance on storage.
Q: What is the difference between a “best-if-used-by” date and an “expiration” date on food products?
A: The “best-if-used-by” date is the date recommended for best flavor and quality of a product. It is not a purchase or safety date. A “sell by” or “expiration” or “use by” date tells a customer how long a store should display the product for sale. Purchase products before the “sell by” or “use by” date. A product can still be used after the “sell by” date if it is still safe, wholesome and of good quality. Do not use a product beyond the “use by” date.
Q: How do I store canned food products once opened?
A: Once opened, leftover contents must be removed from the can and placed in a covered, nonmetallic container and refrigerated or frozen.
Q: How long can I refrigerate canned products after opening?
A: Discard leftover canned products after 3 to 4 days of refrigeration. Products containing meat should be consumed within 2 days.
Q: How long can the product stay out of the refrigerator after it’s been opened?
A: Refrigerate immediately after opening if not intended for immediate consumption. If reheated, food should be placed in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. This recommendation also applies to refrigerated and frozen products.
Q: Can I freeze canned or bottled food products before opening?
A: Canned or processed bottled food products are stable at room temperature and therefore do not require freezing. In fact, freezing in their original container can be detrimental to the quality (flavor and texture) of the product.
Q: Can I refrigerate canned or bottled food products before opening?
A: Canned foods have been processed to ensure shelf stability, so it is not necessary to refrigerate the product. Long term storage in the refrigerator is not recommended because condensation may collect on the can causing it to rust. However, prechilling unopened products such as canned fruits and juices is acceptable.
Q: Can you freeze juice boxes?
A: Yes, boxed juices can be frozen. In fact, frozen juice boxes can help to keep school lunches cold.
Q: Should you rinse canned fruit or vegetables before eating?
A: No, there is no need to rinse or drain the liquid in the canned product unless a particular recipe calls for it.
Q: How can I tell if a canned food product has expired?
A: Some, but not all canned food products contain “best-if-used-by” dates. Unless a canned product is leaking or swollen (bulging), storing for several years will not affect the safety of the product.
Q: How can I find out nutrition information on a product?
A: Packaged products are labeled and the nutrition information is listed on the Nutrition Facts label. For a detailed explanation on nutrition labeling, please consult http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/label.html.
Q: How can I tell if a product is pasteurized?
A: Unless the label indicates that the product has been pasteurized, an average consumer would not be able to tell if a product had undergone the process.
Q: What does it mean when a product is heat processed?
A: Heat-processed foods have been subjected or exposed to temperatures that would kill disease-causing microorganisms and/or reduce the numbers of spoilage microorganisms. Many, but not all heat-processed products are ready-to-eat, so please follow the label instructions for recommended preparation methods.
Q: Can pathogens like E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella survive the processing required to produce shelf-stable juices?
A: No. Normally shelf-stable juices are hot-filled. The juice is heated to temperatures generally above 170° F and then poured into the container, which is immediately capped. The heat from the juice sterlizes the container during a holding period before cooling. That high temperature is far above the heat required to completely inactivate pathogens like E. coli 0157:H7 and Salomonella, which have caused outbreaks involving unpasteurized juices.
Q: Do I need to cook canned products before consuming?
A: Canned products are fully cooked, but to fully enjoy the product consumers should follow label directions for preparation procedures.
Q: Is it safe to use rusty or swollen cans?
A: NO! Do not eat canned foods from rusty or swollen cans.
Q: Is it safe to use dented cans?
A: Products in slightly dented cans can be consumed as long as there are no leaks and the product appears wholesome. Do not consume products from severely dented, leaking, or swollen cans or jars.
Q: How is a can made?
A: The can as we know it today has been made since the turn of the century. Check out the following web site to read more about the history of the can and see how they are made. http://www.cancentral.com/educat.htm
Q: Can you eat seafood too often?
A: You can eat seafoods as often as you like, but strictly adhere to food safety warnings issued by state and federal agencies. Purchase fresh seafoods only from reputable sources. Frozen and canned seafood products are processed in compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations to ensure a safe product for you and your family.
Q: What is HACCP?
A: HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. HACCP is a preventive system for assuring production of safe food. It is a process that identifies food safety hazards associated with a product and process and strictly manages and monitors the Critical Control Points (CCP’s) designed to control the hazard as a way of ensuring the process is in control and that the safest product possible is being produced.