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A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

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  • A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

    Grain storage:
    Recently I had to toss several hundred pounds of grain (corn) I had stored as food for my livestock and for my family if times got really desperate. The corn and had been stored in an unheated shed in 50 gallon metal drums. The drums kept the grain safe from rats and mice but not mold, humidity and condensation. The grain started to ferment and had to be disposed of. I'm not sure which was worse the expense or the cleanup effort.

    Spice Cabinet:
    Yesterday we tackled the spice cabinet. Many leafy spices are only good for a year or two. Even whole seed spices, which usually last longer than ground in storage do not last forever. Jars of whole fennel and caraway seeds were tossed. I didn't know that dried cinnamon sticks or crystalized ginger store in a sealed glass jars could mold. They can and did.

    72 hour kits aka Bug out Bag:
    Each member of the family has one. Snacks, even energy bars and candy do not last forever and need to be swapped out. I also have to remember that kids grow and seasons change. I'd like to say mine have been kept up to date with clothing appropriate for the season and size of the family member and with supplies also appropriate to the age and needs of the individual. I haven't been as dedicated about this as I should but will keep trying.

    Food Inventory:
    During the recent Halloween snow storm I found out the hard way that preps that can't be located during an emergency can be worse than no preps at all because a lot of time and energy can be wasted trying to locate them that would be better spent looking for other alternatives. l also came across forgotten stores of now uselessly out of date food. With the price to replace these stores this was an ouch! Those who put some food and other preps by back when bird flu H5N1 was the big news story of the day may want to check to see if they are still good and and safe to use.

    OTC drugs & first aid supplies:
    It is also about time to check the expirations dates on the OTC drugs. While some claim drugs can be taken out of date there is a question on diminishing effectiveness over time and other issues. My personal preference to keep things in date. Even bandages needed to be replaced after they had been bounced around in the Mom Mobile for a few years, had soda and who knows what spilled on the not so water proof container. I found sealed in thier manufatuer's containers, disposable N95 masks put by several years ago are now useless because the glue sealing the filter to the plastic cuff (looks like a pig's snout) had failed. This was another expensive loss that if there was a pandemic and it had not been found could have cost a lot more than the price of the masks.

    Please remember to check and rotate preps.
    If preps can not be used by the experation or best used by date and are to be swapped out, please consider food banks and other charitable organizations that could use them.
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

  • #2
    Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

    I hear you sister. In our recent move we too discovered preps that had to be tossed. Among them was a 5 gallon bucket of 9-grain cereal, rancid cooking oil and, powdered milk, none of which were cheap.
    Please do not ask me for medical advice, I am not a medical doctor.

    Avatar is a painting by Alan Pollack, titled, "Plague". I'm sure it was an accident that the plague girl happened to look almost like my twin.
    Thank you,
    Shannon Bennett

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    • #3
      Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

      We too threw away outdated preps this past weekend....canned milk...ALOT of it...energy bars, even some cereals and other canned foods like fruits and soups. I wish I had seen that coming so I could have used or donated them to a food bank before they had to go to the trash bin...we live and learn!
      I have four things to learn in life:
      to think clearly without hurry or confusion; to love everybody sincerely; to act in everything with the highest motives; to trust in God unhesitatingly.

      ~Albert Schweitzer~

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      • #4
        Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

        You threw away canned food because it was "out of date"? Please send it to me next time, I'll pay shipping.
        They've found canned food that was a hundred years old and it was still safe to eat.
        The only food that requires a date by law is baby food. Most of the time the "use by" dates are just how long they've kept them and checked them. It wouldn't make good financial sense to tell people it's good for 100 years, they want people to throw it away and buy more. so the dates are never too far out.
        If the can is bulging or "explodes" when you try to open it. throw it out, but don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

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        • #5
          Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

          Originally posted by tygerkittn View Post
          You threw away canned food because it was "out of date"? Please send it to me next time, I'll pay shipping.
          They've found canned food that was a hundred years old and it was still safe to eat.
          The only food that requires a date by law is baby food. Most of the time the "use by" dates are just how long they've kept them and checked them. It wouldn't make good financial sense to tell people it's good for 100 years, they want people to throw it away and buy more. so the dates are never too far out.
          If the can is bulging or "explodes" when you try to open it. throw it out, but don't throw out the baby with the bath water.
          We can not as an internet forum recommend to people that they keep food past the expiration dates printed on the food that they buy.

          It is our recommendation not to eat food that is past its expiration date.

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          • #6
            Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

            Originally posted by sharon sanders View Post
            We can not as an internet forum recommend to people that they keep food past the expiration dates printed on the food that they buy.

            It is our recommendation not to eat food that is past its expiration date.
            Cool! I'll pay shipping, send it to me and I'll dispose of it.


            Hormel's FAQs:
            http://www.hormelfoods.com/faqs.aspx#can1
            Canned Products
            Can we serve a product beyond the "Best By" date shown on the container?

            For best quality, flavor and freshness, we recommend using our canned items by the dating on the container. After this time, the product should be safe to use as long as the can has not been compromised (no dents, split seams, etc.).

            We recommend storing canned items in a cool, dry place to adequately preserve the flavor.

            What is the expiration date on a can of Hormel® Chili, Stagg® Chili or any other Hormel Foods canned product?

            For maximum flavor and freshness, we recommend use by the "Best By" date printed on our can. However, the shelf life of the product is indefinite as long as the seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. It is suggested that all canned products be stored in a cool and dry environment to keep the flavor adequately preserved. Our food is processed with a vacuum seal and is cooked at a high temperature which makes it a shelf stable item.


            What is the shelf life of a Hormel Foods product in an unopened can?

            The processing techniques utilized by Hormel Foods makes the canned product safe for use indefinitely if the product seal remains intact, unbroken and securely attached to a can that has been well maintained. It is suggested that all canned products be stored in a cool and dry environment to keep the flavor adequately preserved. For maximum flavor it is recommended that the product be used within three years of the manufacturing date. After that period of time, the product is still safe to use however, the flavor gradually declines.
            I just checked the Hormel web site because I remembered them saying that spam was good indefinitely, and I liked their refreshing honesty in actually coming out and admitting it, since most places are more concerned with profit.


            http://www.grandpappy.info/hshelff.htm several gov't studies on canned food
            http://web.archive.org/web/200705091.../CON00043.html
            A Food and Drug Administration Article about a shelf life test that was conducted on 100-year old canned foods that were retrieved from the Steamboat Bertrand can be read at the following link:

            http://web.archive.org/web/200705091.../CON00043.html
            Following is a brief summary of a very small portion of the above article:

            "Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier. The nutrient values varied depending upon the product and nutrient. NFPA chemists Janet Dudek and Edgar Elkins report that significant amounts of vitamins C and A were lost. But protein levels remained high, and all calcium values 'were comparable to today's products.'"

            "NFPA chemists also analyzed a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement of a home in California. Again, the canning process had kept the corn safe from contaminants and from much nutrient loss. In addition, Dudek says, the kernels looked and smelled like recently canned corn."

            "According to a recent study cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NFPA, canned foods provide the same nutritional value as fresh grocery produce and their frozen counterparts when prepared for the table. NFPA researchers compared six vegetables in three forms: home-cooked fresh, warmed canned, and prepared frozen. 'Levels of 13 minerals, eight vitamins, and fiber in the foods were similar,' says Dudek. In fact, in some cases the canned product contained high levels of some vitamins that in fresh produce are destroyed by light or exposure to air."

            Canned Food Study Two

            A canned food shelf life study conducted by the U.S. Army revealed that canned meats, vegetables, and jam were in an excellent state of preservation after 46 years.

            The Washington State University summary article can be read at:

            http://www.whatcom.wsu.edu/family/facts/shelflif.htm
            There are several more at the above link. Being well informed about these studies could save your lives when you're down to that last can of spam and debating whether to eat it or throw it away.
            I have six kids, I wouldn't serve them anything I was worried about, so I made sure I read up so I would know when to be worried about it. I throw away anything dented, rusty, or bulging, or that makes a loud sound when opened.
            It's good to know the forum's official recommendation, though. Thanks.

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            • #7
              Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

              Originally posted by sharon sanders View Post
              We cannot as an internet forum recommend to people that they keep food past the expiration dates printed on the food that they buy.

              It is our recommendation not to eat food that is past its expiration date.
              It is also recommended that OTC medicine also be replaced upon reaching its expiration date.

              Originally posted by tygerkittn View Post
              Hormel's FAQs:
              http://www.hormelfoods.com/faqs.aspx#can1

              I just checked the Hormel web site because I remembered them saying that spam was good indefinitely, and I liked their refreshing honesty in actually coming out and admitting it, since most places are more concerned with profit.
              Tygerkittn I found a can of Spam in my pantry once, well within date, that was bulging and not just a little bit. It is important to use common sense and be very careful. A desire on the part of retailers to turn over stock is not the only reason for expiration dates.

              Also important while checking food preps please note:

              Never taste food to determine if it has spoiled. Even a small amount of spoiled food can cause sickness or death. Depending on the cause spoiled food can look, smell and taste fine and still be spoiled.

              Look for swollen or deformed cans. This may indicate the presence of anaerobic bacteria inside the unopened can. It should be discarded unopened.

              Look for rust or dents on cans that could compromise the seal and allow the contents to spoil. I have heard reports of some people coating cans with paraffin to prevent rust. Luckily our storage is not that damp that we need to be concerned. If a seal is compromised or is suspected of being compromised the food should be safely discarded.

              Look for signs of leakage that could be a sign of a compromised seal. If a seal is compromised or is suspected of being compromised the food should be safely discarded.

              In foods in glass jars also check for bulging lids and failed seals and leakage.

              For dried spices in glass jars I check for signs of surface mold. I found cinnamon sticks recently with surface mold and discarded them.

              If the can does not have wording: "Ready to eat." It may not be safe to eat its contents directly out of the can. It may require heating first to be safe. Even if it has the wording care and common sense should be used to insure the food is safe to eat.
              We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                I would also like to add the warning not to open, puncture, or even excessively handle cans/jars that are dented/bulging/leaking due to suspected botulism.

                There was an incident (covered by ProMED) in a supermarket last year in the United States where a refrigerated soup product was stored out of refrigeration. In addition to causing several customers to contract botulism, one employee contracted the disease. Apparently, he had noticed the swollen containers on the shelf, and punctured them to let the "air" out. In the process, he inhaled enough of the toxin to become ill.

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                • #9
                  Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                  Originally posted by Amish Country View Post

                  Never taste food to determine if it has spoiled. Even a small amount of spoiled food can cause sickness or death. Depending on the cause spoiled food can look, smell and taste fine and still be spoiled.
                  I wouldn't even sniff it, I read that you can inhale botulism spores. If it doesn't pass the visual test I toss it. If it looks OK but I'm a little worried I make sure I cook it at boiling temperatures for at least ten minutes to kill any potential botulism.

                  All cans are capable of being compromised, even spam. I inspect everything closely before I use it. I remember working in a grocery store during college years and grabbing a can of tuna to ring up that was leaking and bulging. Ugh. It wasn't expired, either.
                  It's just that the government has beaten any capability of independent thought out of people with all it's warnings and coddling, I remember throwing away "expired" soup cans and once thinking to myself " All I have is hamburger helper and ground chicken, but I can't use chicken, the instructions say to use hamburger." I've come a long way since then, thanks to prep boards. I can cook from scratch now!
                  How long can people survive if all they know how to do is follow the instructions on the label to the letter, and if they have no confidence in their own judgement and common sense? The only way to grow your "common sense" muscle is to exercise it.
                  I worry about the people who never go to boards like this, they have no idea how to really cook and what to look for as far as safety issues go. They might be starving someday and thinking "Chicken with hamburger helper? I can't do that!"
                  There was an army study that said that OTC medicines were OK past their dates, the date is just how long the company that makes it let it sit, and then tested it. It's a boon to their profit margin if they don't test it too far out, but the army did and found it was OK. For prescription meds, tetracycline has a preservative that can be dangerous past it's date, and other prescription med was dangerous, I can't remember which.
                  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/ar...-part-one.aspx
                  Sitting on a one billion dollar stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every two to three years, the military began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter.

                  The results, never before reported, show that about 90 percent of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it.

                  In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty notes that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set.

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                  • #10
                    Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                    Originally posted by tygerkittn View Post
                    I wouldn't even sniff it, I read that you can inhale botulism spores. If it doesn't pass the visual test I toss it. If it looks OK but I'm a little worried I make sure I cook it at boiling temperatures for at least ten minutes to kill any potential botulism.
                    That is doubly dangerous. It is not the bacteria that cause illness in botulism, it is the toxin they produce. Killing the bacteria by boiling the product may not eliminate the toxin. And attempting such a procedure increases your risk of inhaling the toxin.

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                    • #11
                      Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                      Originally posted by alert View Post
                      That is doubly dangerous. It is not the bacteria that cause illness in botulism, it is the toxin they produce. Killing the bacteria by boiling the product may not eliminate the toxin. And attempting such a procedure increases your risk of inhaling the toxin.
                      My idea of a suspicious can is one that has a 99.9% chance of being OK. I throw away anything bulging or explosive. I do use dented cans, I consider them suspicious but if it's a small dent and not leaking I may end up using it. Same with rust, anything obviously rusting out gets tossed, but with just a spot or two around the top of the rim I may use it anyway.

                      http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs104

                      Cooking food thoroughly will eliminate the C. botulinum and its toxin. Foods that are served uncooked like fresh vegetables will obviously not benefit from the cooking process. For these items, other factors such as sanitation, worker hygiene, and proper storage take on much greater importance (Food Code 3-401.11 and 3-403.11).

                      Cook fish, meat or foods containing these items to an internal temperature of 63oC (145oF) or above for a minimum of 15 seconds.
                      Cook ground meat products to an internal temperature of 69oC (155oF) or above for a minimum of 15 seconds.
                      Cook poultry to an internal temperature of 74oC (165oF) or above for a minimum of 15 seconds.
                      Reheat previously cooked material to an internal temperature to 74oC (165oF).

                      http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs270/en/

                      The botulinal toxin has been found in a variety of foods, including low-acid preserved vegetables, such as green beans, spinach, mushrooms, and beets; fish, including canned tuna, fermented, smoked and salted fish; and meat products, such as ham, chicken and sausage. The toxin is destroyed by normal cooking processes (heating at >85C for five minutes or boiling for a few minutes). Clostridium botulinum will not grow, and therefore the toxin will not be formed in acidic foods (pH less than 4.6). However, the low pH will not inactivate any preformed toxin.
                      I took this to mean that cooking at a high temperature was an additional safety step. I know it doesn't kill visible spores, and I wouldn't depend on it for anything truly suspicious.

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                      • #12
                        Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                        I think we also need to differentiate between what is "safe" now and what would be acceptable in a survival situation.

                        Right now, there is no reason to eat questionable food when it comes to potential botulism. The consquences are just too severe. There is a supermarket full of in-date, uncontaminated cans down the street. If the can in your pantry is questionable, throw it out. When in doubt, throw it out.

                        If you are in a shelter-in-place situation, say due to a natural disaster or high-CFR pandemic, it becomes a different decision. If you can't get to the supermarket, or the supermarket doesn't have any food in it, you might be forced eat things that you wouldn't in normal situations.

                        But now, before such a situation, would be the time to eliminate questionable preps while safe alternatives are available and plentiful, so that you are not forced to make such a decision in the future.

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                        • #13
                          Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                          Originally posted by alert View Post
                          . . . But now, before such a situation, would be the time to eliminate questionable preps while safe alternatives are available and plentiful, so that you are not forced to make such a decision in the future.
                          This is worth repeating. The time to prepare for the next disaster is NOW - not when you starting reading about it on the internet.

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                          http://novel-infectious-diseases.blogspot.com/

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                          • #14
                            Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                            Knowledge is the best prep, and knowing what botulism is and how it presents and what the signs are that it's present and what kills it (proper canning methods at high heat in a pressure canner, for low acid foods) will help make well informed decisions.
                            People who think food turns to poisonous sludge on the "best by" date will die, or if they eat it anyway they'll make themselves sick with fear and be miserable, when it's completely unnecessary.
                            I've made cake mixes and hamburger helper that were ten years past the expiration date, I've eaten food that was frozen ten years ago and sat in the freezer that long, and I've eaten canned foods way past their date.
                            I don't refrigerate eggs or butter, because I remember when grocery stores didn't, either, and we finish it off within two weeks anyway. If I expected it to last longer I'd keep it in the fridge.
                            I can my extra meat now and keep my freezer full of butter and cheese, because I know if the power goes out I can form the butter into balls and preserve it in a bucket of salt water (salty enough that an egg floats) and I can wax the cheese.
                            People need to stop letting the government scare them and find out the realities of it all.
                            The government doesn't recommend canning butter, I really wanted to can butter so I read everything on the internet I could find, and I came to the conclusion that the gov't is right, it is very risky and I'm not going to do it without special equipment I'd never be able to afford.
                            I just wish people would learn why the government and corporations say this and that before they blindly follow them. Sometimes it's just to increase profits, and sometimes it's just a minor precaution, and sometimes they're right, but you can't know unless you research it.

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                            • #15
                              Re: A reminder and expensive warning to check and rotate preps

                              Oh, I have been putting my rancid oil in the garage, because I read you can use it in lanterns. I'll bet it stinks, though.

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