Invariably some food items in your pantry will somehow manage to sit around in the cabinet and avoid your best efforts at proper rotation until their “Best By” date expires. Fortunately, this doesn't mean it’s unfit for consumption but will still be perfectly palatable. There are still a few things you need to check to insure that it is safe for consumption.
For the purposes of this survival food test, we will be using one of the favorite food items of survivalists everywhere...spam. Spam is a very versatile food that is rumored to have an indefinite shelf life when properly stored. It is now going to be put to the test.
We will be using a can of spam with a “Best by” date of 04/11, which makes it slightly out of date by more than a couple of years. Here is the manner in which it was checked to see if it was still a viable food source.
The first thing checked was proper storage conditions. Having been stored in my pantry for well over three years under proper conditions this was not a concern. If the storage conditions can’t be verified, you will need to exercise additional caution and be a lot more critical of the next steps in determining it’s viability as a food source.
The second thing to check was the overall condition of the can. It appeared in good shape and had no dents, leaks, swelling or bulging areas and had no rust.
The third item checked was the presence of any visible deterioration of the food product in the form of mold or mildew that might be present. The spam was also sliced to make sure there was no interior contamination. None was evident.
The fourth item checked was the smell of the food item. It actually had a very fresh smell and reminded me of spam that I had been eaten on previous occasions. No problems with the spam in the smell department.
The final check was the taste test. After frying up several slices of the spam, it was supplemented with some eggs. It made for a very satisfying meal.
When using canned food items that may have passed their “Best by” date, a few simple precautions can help you avoid problems.
1. If possible, always check that proper storage conditions of the food product were maintained.
2. Examine the container for any visible damage that could affect the food item.
3. Examine the contents for any visible signs of deterioration.
4. Use the smell test...if it smells bad, it probably is.
5. Finally, use the taste test on a small sample before consuming the food item.
There is an old saying that is easy to remember and applies in this type of situation.
When in doubt, throw it out!
Staying above the water line!