Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Food Storage Shelf Life

So you’ve followed the emergency preparedness guidance of the experts by stocking up on food storage for yourself and your family. No matter what the future brings, your outlook is bright because you know you’re ready for even the direst times. But how long will your preparation efforts last? Do they have an expiration date? There are varying points of view on this topic, but the short answer is your food storage will have a “sustain life” shelf life of at least 20 years.

There are many conflicting opinions on this issue. The main problem with the lack of expiration date consistency is there are different levels of food expiration.  When your food is used within the “best if used by” range, you will experience its full taste and nutritional value. When your food is stored longer, chemical changes can occur. Over time, minerals and carbohydrates in food do not transform much. Proteins and fats, however, can deteriorate in quality and cause off-tasting food. Vitamins are also susceptible to heat, light, and oxygen destruction.

Calorie intake is the most important life sustaining factor. Because calories do not mutate or fade drastically over time, the life of food storage products has more than one level.

If you want your food storage to have the best taste and highest nutrients, it is recommended that most items be used within 2-5 years. However, if you plan to use your food storage to sustain life, many items can last up to 20+ years. Once opened, most foods should be used within 6-18 months. However, many opened foods can remain life sustaining for up to 5 years if they are kept well covered and stored in a cool, dry area.
To maximize the taste, nutritional value, and shelf life of your food storage, follow these tips:

• Keep cans open for the least amount of time possible.

• To maximize freshness, keep oxygen absorbers in your opened cans. 

• Scoop food out of your cans instead of pouring, Doing this will limit oxygen intake.

• Reseal your opened cans with their plastic coverings.

• Store your food in a dark, dry, cool place (a basement or cold storage area is highly recommended).

• Limit your opened cans' contact with humidity.

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