A Surprising Story of 100-Year-Old Meat

Still not sure you want to store canned foods for years on your shelves for emergency preparedness? Would you guess that a can of meat could last more than 100 years? Perhaps this story will convince you of the long shelf life of canned foods.

Canned foods were first introduced at the turn of the 19th century. It was a revolutionary concept–to be able to store perishable foods in containers without refrigeration. One of the things that really encouraged their use was the practicality of canned foods in ships for long voyages. In the 1820’s Sir William Edward Parry took two voyages to the Northwest Passage. Along with him Parry took some canned foods. One four-pound can of roasted veal was brought on both ships and recovered as an artifact of the expeditions. It was kept in a museum until 1938 when it was opened and analyzed.

Shocking to all, this meat was found to be still edible! Laboratory tests showed that the meat still had most of its nutritive qualities and was still of good quality. This meat was fed to a cat which ate it happily and showed no poor side effects after eating it. For the original story, click here.

Does this mean that your canned foods can last 118 years? Probably none of us are brave enough (or will last long enough) to find out. Still, this story proves that canned foods, especially those low in acid like meats, can last long enough to prove very useful for emergency situations.

Make sure to read the previous articles in this series about reading codes on canned foods, determining the shelf-life of your canned foods, and important safety considerations when storing canned foods.

Do you have any stories about canned foods with a long shelf life in your home? Have you been surprised to open very old cans to still find good food inside?

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Five Food Storage Safety Tips

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What Do the Dates on Your Canned Foods Mean?