Pantry Storage


  • The storage times listed for many shelf-stable items at room temperature are mainly a quality issue. Before opening, shelf-stable foods should be safe to eat unless the can or package has been damaged.
  • Never use food from cans that are leaking, rusting, bulging, badly dented or with a foul odor, cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids, or any container that spurts liquid when you open it.
  • To keep shelf-stable foods at their best quality, store them in a clean, dry, cool (below 85ºF) cabinet away from the stove or the refrigerator’s exhaust. Extremely hot (over 100ºF) and freezing temperatures are harmful to canned goods.
  • Do not buy or use infant formula and baby food past its “use-by” date. Federal regulations require a date on infant formula.
  • Throw out any food you suspect is spoiled. NEVER taste it. Products that become contaminated (insects in flour, for example) should be thrown out immediately.
  • In general, high-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple can be stored on the shelf for 12 to 18 months. Low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will keep 2 to 5 years— if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean and dry place. Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted.
  • Be sure to read package labels. Some items must be refrigerated after opening.
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