Tinned & Canned Food

Food Standards Agency

Is food safe if the can has a dent in it?

Food should remain fit to eat if a can is dented, providing the denting of the can is shallow and there are no other obvious signs that the can is damaged.

However, if the denting is deep, the can may have a hidden split, hole or break in the seal. This could result in a can that is no longer a reliable container. If this is the case, the food inside should not be eaten. If the denting has caused the can to rust, the food inside should not be consumed either.

You should avoid eating food from a visibly bulging can. If the can spurts when it is opened, this may be a result of gas build up in the food. This could be due to the presence and growth of microorganisms. These microorganisms can spoil the food and can make it unsafe. If consumers have purchased cans which are visibly bulging, they should return them to the retailer.

How long can canned food be eaten after the best before date?

The length of time canned food is acceptable to eat after a best before date depend on the product, storage conditions and the brand.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the ‘open life’. This usually indicates where to store products and for how long. Different brands of the same products can undergo different manufacturing processes. This can affect their composition and how perishable they are.

Can you eat canned food cold?

Many canned foods intended to be heated before eating will not pose a safety risk if eaten cold. However, this will depend on the product. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions before eating. 

Is it safe to leave food in opened cans?

You should not store food in an opened tin can. When a can has been opened and the food is exposed to the air, the tin from the can could transfer more quickly to the food inside. 

After opening a can of food, if you aren't going to use it all right away, empty the contents into a bowl or another container and put it in the fridge.

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