Are Canned Foods Safe to Store? (Video)

image by JoshBerglund19

On my very first foray into food storage, I loaded two grocery carts with mostly canned food.  My pantry contains dozens of cans of chile, beans, tuna, soup, and a stray can or two of ravioli.  (My kids kicked the ravioli habit a couple of years ago.)  At the time I didn’t know anything about BPA in their interior lining.

Is BPA, bisphenol A, a concern of mine?  Yes, but mainly because I’m fed up with additives and the unnecessary overuse of chemicals in our daily lives.  Years ago I was shocked at how many food products contain high fructose corn syrup, and now it seems, most cans have BPA in their lining.  Some companies, including Campbell’s Soups and Kroger, have voluntarily removed BPA from their cans but recently the FDA decided that although they, “share the level of concern,” about BPA, they don’t believe there is enough evidence to ban it.  (Instead, they’ll double down on their efforts to arrest farmers selling raw milk.  But I digress.)

BPA is controversial, with even government agencies disagreeing on its level of toxicity and its possible effects on humans. In particular, infants and children seem more likely to be affected by this particular chemical.  It’s been linked in some studies to everything from cancer to infertility.

My point of view is, why?  If Kroger and Campbell’s can remove BPA from their cans, then why is it even there in any cans?  Isn’t it wise to err on the side of caution?  Certainly it makes sense that the fewer chemicals and additives that we inhale or consume is a healthier way to live, and isn’t promoting healthy lifestyles one of Big Brother’s most recent campaigns?

In spite of the health concerns swirling around the use of BPA in the linings of cans I believe commercially canned food can play a role in the food storage plans of many families.  Here are some tips for incorporating canned foods in a healthy, level-headed way.

  1. Look for BPA-free cans and make a point to contact those companies and thank them for taking steps to insure the health of their customers.
  2. Assess how much canned food your family currently consumes.  You might be surprised to find that you actually rely very little on canned food.
  3. If BPA is a concern to you, limit your purchase of canned foods to either those in BPA-free cans and/or only the canned foods you utilize most often.
  4. Consider canned food as a back-up only.  Focus on dehydrating and canning your own produce and other foods so you’re less reliant on food from the grocery store.
  5. If you’ll be purchasing food from a food storage company such as Shelf Reliance, ask about the linings of their cans.  Shelf Reliance’s Thrive foods are in BPA-free cans.
  6. Learn to dehydrate food.  It’s the easiest way to preserve food, and you can dehydrate just about anything, including spaghetti sauce, frozen vegetables, and herbs.
  7. If you’ve been stocking up on canned soup, begin to store ingredients for homemade soup instead.  These come together very quickly and you’ll appreciate the fact that not only were they not stored in a can containing  BPA, but they don’t contain excessive sodium or high fructose corn syrup either.
  8. Double down on your gardening efforts.  If possible, look for ways to garden year-round with a greenhouse or by learning how to grow plants via hydroponics.

This video explains a bit more about how canned goods can be part of a safe and healthy food storage plan.


There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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  1. says

    While I personally feel that BPA is being over-hyped, I absolutely agree with using as much of your own home-grown and canned/dehydrated food as possible. Just get ready for “studies” that eventually come out about how dehydrating denatures proteins making them unsafe for sensitive groups or how there is a chemical in glass jars that causes ADD or cancer.

    Remember that medicine is big business and alternative medicine wants a piece of that action. Anything that can be vilified will be villified.

    And there is an element of the government, I believe, that doesn’t want you “hoarding food.” Studying our food preps for something they can deem as dangerous to “sensitive” people is a good way to prevent us from doing it.

    • Laura m. says

      Rob: I agree BPA is hyped; it has been around over 100 years and people are living longer. Just like the Japanese nuke problem is hyped and exaggerated, according to an American businessman I emailed in Japan recently who wrote on a patriot web site.

  2. says

    I, too, am concerned about BPA. This past Winter, we made a major investment with the Tattler canning lids so that we can get further away from the BPA threat.

    During the past couple of years, we have more than doubled our garden so that we can preserve even more food. We have grown beyond a kitchen/cellar pantry for our home-grown, home-canned foods.

    With the failing economy, we decided to increase our food storage and in the interim, commercially canned foods became important until we could grow more of our own foods and preserve them. At this time, we still have a good supply of commercially canned foods that we might use to fall back on, esp. if family members are forced to move in with us. The canned foods we store are basic fruits and veggies, though, since I always cook from scratch. We have also purchased some dehydrated foods to keep on hand.

    Your comment on canned soups is a good reminder to work towards using basic ingredients, not “processed” foods such as a condensed soup base or spaghettios. Yuck!

    Your article is excellent and I hope others gain from it!

  3. Leslie says

    Great suggestions, and the idea of variety is important in not just food storage but everyday eating. I plan to incorporate them all–I have a dehydrating class next week!– but in a crisis scenario, I think BPA will be the least of our worries. Dehydrating would be a great skill of the month, btw! :)

  4. David M says

    We have the power!

    OK, seriously. Lets try to get a list of companies using BPA in their cans and associated phone numbers. If they start getting hundreds and then thousands of of phone calls telling them you avoid their BPA cans. They will start listening.

  5. says

    I would like to thank you for giving us information about the canned food and the BPA. Before buy the canned food I will definitely check this which canned food am buying is that BPA free and i always remember you great tips.

  6. Rebecca Farnham says

    Canned foods from the store do not stay good for years! I have recently cleaned out a pantry that had canned foods from >5-15 years ago, some may have been older, before easily read expiration dates were required.. Some cans had ruptured ( the most recent expiration date of a ruptured can was 2007) but there were many that had a slightly raised bulge. After what I have seen, I would not recommend eating anything stored in cans past expiration date, therefore, I do not think it is a good option for storing food for emergency unless it is a rapid turnover in your house.

  7. Vic says

    The only thing I know about using canned food passed the sell by date is if you can push in the top and it pops back bacteria has gotten into it and they are doing their thing. Releasing gases I mean. (Thank you Mrs. Stebly and Biology 2) But how else can you tell if it is no longer good?

    • says

      Check the seam and seals of the can. Keep in mind that just because a food goes beyond its expiration date doesn’t mean it dissolves or disappears. It can still be eaten but probably won’t have the same nutritional value as before. Also, the texture, color, and flavor of the food may change.

  8. Edwina says

    How long can you store your own canned food? My grandmother would say forever, but everything I have read is saying only a year.

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