The rule of thumb: When in doubt, throw it out.
The top reason to trash a can is if its shape has changed. If a tin is bulging, don’t open it, says Jorie Janzen, a Winnipeg dietitian. “Bacteria may be growing, which can lead to illness if consumed.”
Also, if a can is dented, there’s a chance the food is spoiled. “The weakened tin could be punctured, even if no hole is visible,” says Nancy Saunders, a dietitian based in Ormstown, Que. And toss any can with rust on it.
Even if a can looks fine, check the “best before” date. (Acidic foods, such as tomato paste, can last up to 18 months, and low-acid foods, such as chickpeas, can keep for one to two years).
Freshen cupboards by cleaning them well. Note that food-storage cupboards should be dark, cool and dry; avoid storing canned goods over the stove or under the sink. If you have glass-fronted cabinets, keep dishes in them, not food. “Light and heat can deteriorate the nutrition and flavours of packaged foods,” says Janzen.
If you use food-storage containers, ensure they are tightly sealed. And with any food in your pantry, always use the “first in, first out” approach.
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