IMG_4120The question is regularly asked, "What is the shelf life of my food storage?" It is important to first identify what is meant by food storage and shelf life. Food storage that is intended to be held long-term is generally considered to be low moisture food packed in either #10 cans or in metalized bags placed within large buckets. Shelf life can be defined in the following two ways: Best if used by shelf life - Length of time food retains most of its original taste and nutrition. Life sustaining shelf life - Length of time food preserves life, without becoming inedible. There can be a wide time gap between these two definitions of shelf life. For example, most foods available in the grocery store that are dated have a best if used by date that ranges from a few weeks to a few years. On the other hand, scientific studies have determined that when properly stored, powdered milk has a life sustaining shelf life of 20 years. That is, the stored powdered milk may not taste as good as fresh powdered milk, but it retains some nutritional value and is still edible. Secondly, it's important to understand food constituents. Food is composed of the following:
  • Calories: A unit of measurement of energy derived from fats, carbohydrates and protein.
  • Fats: A wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and largely insoluble in water.
  • Carbohydrates: Simple sugars as well as larger molecules including starch and dietary fiber.
  • Proteins: Large organic compounds that are essential to living organisms.
  • Vitamins: A nutrient required for essential metabolic reactions in a living organism.
  • Minerals: The chemical elements required by living organisms, other than carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.
Minerals and carbohydrates do not change much during storage. But proteins can denature and deteriorate in quality. Fats can acquire off odors and off flavors known as rancidity. Vitamins are susceptible to destruction by heat, light, and oxidation. Importantly, even if some components deteriorate, the fat, carbohydrates and proteins still contribute calories. To prevent starvation, the most important component is calories. Freeze-Dried Food Shelf Life

Freeze-dried food is excellent for long-term food storage. Mountain House® has tested some of their freeze dried foods and the results were excellent! Because of this research, they have a best if used by shelf life of 25 years. As an added benefit, freeze-drying fruits, vegetables, and meats helps maintain the foods' original shape, color, and taste.

Freeze Dried Blueberries, Strawberries, and Apples up to 25+ years* or more
Freeze Dried Broccoli, Green Peppers, and Potatoes up to 25+ years* or more
Mountain House Freeze Dried Chicken Stew, Vegetable Stew with Beef, and Chili Macaroni up to 25+ years* or more
*Stored in Ideal Conditions
Dehydrated Food Shelf Life

Recent scientific studies have shown that dehydrated food stored properly can last for a much longer period of time than previously thought. This research determined the life sustaining shelf life to be approximately 30 years.

Wheat, White Rice, and Corn up to 30+ years* or more
Pinto Beans, Apple Slices, Macaroni up to 30+ years* or more
Rolled Oats, and Potato Flakes up to 30+ years* or more
Powdered Milk up to 20+ years* or more
*Stored in Ideal Conditions
Shelf life is extremely dependent on the following storage conditions*: Storage Conditions
  • Oxygen: The oxygen in air can have deteriorative effects on fats, food colors, vitamins, flavors, and other food constituents. It can cause conditions that will enhance the growth of microorganisms.
  • Moisture: Excessive moisture can result in product deterioration and spoilage by creating an environment in which microorganisms may grow and chemical reactions can take place.
  • Light: The exposure of foods to light can result in the deterioration of specific food constituents, such as fats, proteins, and vitamins, resulting in discoloration, off-flavors, and vitamin loss.
  • Temperature: Excessive temperature is damaging to food storage. With increased temperature, proteins breakdown and some vitamins will be destroyed. The color, flavor and odor of some products may also be affected. To enhance shelf life, store food at room temperature or below; never store food in an attic or garage.
*Cans that are bulging can only be replaced if they were stored under ideal conditions. Conclusion Emergency Essentials has taken every effort to pack quality Provident Pantry dehydrated and freeze-dried foods in #10 cans and Super-pail buckets, all with most of the oxygen removed. It is important for you to keep food stored at as cool and steady a temperature as possible (below 75 degrees but not freezing). This is the best and most important thing individuals can do to keep their long term food viable. If done, your storage could last 20-30+ years, depending on the product, storage conditions, and definition of "shelf life."
Food storageFood storage tipsShelf life

102 comments

Holly

Holly

I have two family members with nut allergies(peanut and tree nut), how can I find out if the products not containing nuts are safe from cross contamination? Is there a safe way for me to prepare for my family?

Thank you

Lillian

Lillian

I live in a small apartment in a city with the temperature about 40 degrees in winter and 95 degrees in summer, very humid. I turn on the heat when the temp drops to 55 degrees and turn on the air conditioner at 80 degrees, but may turn off the air conditioner when no one home.

I am planning to buy the #10 can chicken meat, beef meat and the chadder cheese.

1) How long should I rotate the meats in my living condition ?

2) once I open the can of the cheese, how long can the cheese last if I put it into a vacuum sealed mason jar ?

Thanks

Lillian

AJ

AJ

We just pulled a Provident Pantry Blueberry Mix that had been stored indoors the entire time. 2005 mfg. date and just noticed it is bulging in 2016. So we lasted about 10 years on this product. Good to rotate this much sooner than the other more stable food products. Bummer, no blueberry pancakes for me!

Thomas

Thomas

I will likely request to be removed from your marketing emails. I simply cannot get passed your unwillingness to inform consumers of the expected “best if used by” or “expiration” date" of your products. To be candid, I find your explanation and reasons to be somewhat evasive. Those who store food do so because they feel it’s vital for survival, and what a shame it would be to depend on your products only to find they’re no good!

ike Waston

ike Waston

Why are there no replies posted? I would think it would be up to EE to supply the answers, not other customers.

Emergency Essentials

Emergency Essentials

The peanut butter powder will last up to 25 years if stored in proper conditions.

Mary

Mary

Can you tell me the shelf life of the peanut butter powder?

Chris W

Chris W

I have read conflicting things regarding the storage of dehydrated foods. My question is specifically about corn. Popcorn has a standard moisture content of 13-15% but almost all guidelines of storing dried goods is to have a moisture content of 10% or less. Is the popcorn you use normal stock like you would by in bulk bags from a store or is it further dehydrated to under 10%? Also, Im wondering if anyone knows the moisture levels of dried Flint or Dent corn and their shelf life in a mylar bag/bucket combo.

James Sane

James Sane

Why do you not have a printer friendly function for info articles on the website?

RPA

RPA

I’m frustrated that the italian style chicken crumbles I just bought have no clear indication of expected shelf life. It really should be on the can or label with a disclaimer that storage conditions can diminish the actual self life. I have to label when I bought it and guess if it was canned last month or 10 years ago. There is a bunch of code on the bottom and Rev. 3/2/15 on the label. Does any of that tell me when it was manufactured so I can guess at an expected self life?

Donna

Donna

Was a response ever posted to address these questions? For me it is much more than a curiosity. We have family members who have developed allergies to some of the “extra” ingredients. I would be able to buy more if I knew every ingredient. (At least I hope I would buy more! Maybe there are so many additives I would have to skip them!)

Phyllis Crubaugh

Phyllis Crubaugh

This was posted back in September of 2015 and still has no answer as of 6/27/16. I too am interested in the answer EE will provide for this question. It is what has kept me from buying the product.

Emergency Essentials

Emergency Essentials

Hi Risa,

The cheese powder will last up to 25 years if stored properly and in a cool, dry location.

Fern Phillips

Fern Phillips

Dear Sirs: I was told that the canned cornmeal did not have the shelf life of 25 years is this statement true or false? Under what conditions would the cornmeal not keep as long?? Thanks, Fern

Mike

Mike

How can I tell how a product is packaged. Bulk in cans, Metalized bags/pouches in cans/containers etc. If I purchase a year supply for two, I will not be able to keep it at a constant 70 degrees until I move to a cooler climate. How will storage life be affected when the product is in a garage in Indiana all year cool most of the year and hot in summer?

Angela Lower

Angela Lower

In my humble opinion, NEVER store your food in a garage. There are so many other places to store your food. Under bed, in closets, behind books on shelves, behind your couch. Your shelf life will be drastically reduced when stored somewhere the temperature reaches over 80 degrees. I have a list of where I store what in my apartment, and believe me, there are a LOT of places you can put stuff where no one will see. Some places in Indiana can hit the 100’s — not a good temp. to store food.

fan4you2

fan4you2

Not “ALL” the canned foods have have a 25+ year shelf life.

Bo

Bo

Before I buy, I wanted to know how the #10 cans are sealed and what is required to open and reseal them. I have assumptions but we know how that works!

Thank you

Bo…

fan4you2

fan4you2

Is there anyway to add the shelf life of items to the item and/or the product description on the site. I have read the “shelf life” article and it is limited to the things it lists. There is so much more on the site that are not covered in the article. I am wanting to place an order but need a better idea on what the shelf life is. Thank you!

Wm

Wm

Popcorn can be re hydrated to pop better. My father did this when the pop corn did not pop well. He just added a teaspoon of water to the jar of popcorn and waited a week or so.

risa

risa

What is the approximate shelf life for your cheese powder?

Emergency Essentials

Emergency Essentials

Hi Fern!

Sorry this response is so long in coming. The shelf life of the cornmeal should still be 25 years. However, there are some conditions which would lesson the shelf life, such as being stored in hot/warm and humid locations or in direct sunlight. If stored in a cool, dry location there should be no reason it won’t store for 25 years.

Ben

Ben

All our canned food has a shelf life of up to 25+ years. The Italian Style Chicken Crumbles are a brand new item for us, so they wouldn’t have been packaged longer than a few months, if even that long. In order to store for the 25 years, the can will need to be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. A basement is usually a good place for that. Sorry for the frustration. Hopefully this helped.

Mary

Mary

I keep all my long term foods in the basement. It is dry and usually at 65degrees. I have a 16 × 18 foot room filled floor to ceiling with your products. Mostly I have stayed with plain fruits, plain vegetables, and meats. I do have butter, powdered milk in pails, sour cream, peanut butter. I also have pails of milk, grains, and beans.

The only foods I have that are not a single item container are some of the breakfast egg and meat dishes, and some sweet and sour pork.

I purchased my foods almost exclusively as single item contents because I want to be certain that no one component in a can will impact the overall product and perhaps lead to a decreased shelf life.

As well, I simply will not eat some of the additives that are in the prepared meals. Certain products have carageenan, a suspected carcinogen but used widely as a thickener in the food industry. I do not want foods that have agents in them to make them flow better etc.

My question is this……..WHY. Does your company add these things to foods? When we cook at home we certainly do not add these things. It makes no sense to me that these sealed cans need all these “extra” and unhealthy ingredients.

I would very much like to understand the rationale for this.

As well, I would like to know if your company uses any products from China or Japan. I think it is only fair that customers know where their food was grown.

Thanks

Emergency Essentials

Emergency Essentials

Hi Michele,

You should be able to keep your food pretty stable at 75 degrees. Keeping your food at room temperature (between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit) will give them its proper shelf life (which varies depending on the product). For every 18 degrees (hotter or cooler), the shelf life will halve or double (depending if it’s hotter or cooler). You’ll want to keep your food from freezing, and make sure it doesn’t get much higher than 75. So, your food should still last as long as its stated shelf life. I hope that answers your question!

Michele

Michele

This is more of a general question. I live in AR so we have only cool winters but hot summers. I built a concrete block storm shelter/root cellar building. Big mistake but I have to use what I have. My temps in the building range from around the low 40s in winter to about 80 in the summer. I’ve installed an A/C unit in an attempt to lower the temp. With all this my temps are around 75 in the summer now. How would you expect my temperatures to affect shelf life of your products? The dark, dry place I have with the A/C unit but my temps are not good I know.

beprepared

beprepared

Hi, Christy.
It depends on how humid your area is, and the storage temperature. But generally speaking, if you just put the plastic lid back on the can as-is, it could last up to 3 months. If, however, you pour the milk powder into a zip-top bag, squeeze out the air, and put the whole thing back inside the can, it could last at long as 6 months after opening. Hope that helps you get the most out of your powdered milk!
—Sarah

Christy

Christy

I have purchased a can of your Instant Nonfat Dry Milk and understand the shelf life will be 20 years if stored properly. Once I’ve opened the can, how long will it last if stored properly?

beprepared

beprepared

Hi, Donna.
The only way the humidity becomes a factor on unopened foods is if the food is packaged in cans that are prone to rust. Eventually that will happen to all cans, but ours are enameled to help prolong the shelf life, even in humidity.
I hope that helps!
Sarah

beprepared

beprepared

Paul, we now print the date of manufacture as follows: Jun 02 2014. That will be followed by a two-digit batch number.
So product that you order now will have that updated number. I hope that helps!
Sarah

beprepared

beprepared

Another condition that creates an optimum storage area is that it’s dry. That would be my primary concern with the refrigerator; also, if the power goes out there will be a pretty significant change in temperature. Since consistency is also ideal, I would say avoid using the fridge to extend the shelf life of your long-term foods.
Sarah

beprepared

beprepared

Hi, Deb!
Thanks for your input—I’ll speak with our web manager to make this page easier to find. As far as your questions go, I checked in with our product manager, and yes, your guesses are correct. Because Alfredo Sauce and cheese are higher in fat content, their shelf life is shorter. Tomato powder and spices will last longer. I’ll see if I can get some more precise date ranges for the items you’re asking about.
Sarah

beprepared

beprepared

That’s a great idea—nicely done!
I don’t have those kind of building skills, but I have a serious appreciation for people who do.
Sarah

Lee

Lee

Is the shelf life for a given product the same whether stored in a #10 can or the #2.5 can? Thanks for your insights!

Memorial Rifle  Range

Memorial Rifle Range

I built a small insulated room 12 × 10 In the coolest part of my small basement and to prevent it from getting warm in the winter (from the furnace) I added a small blower to provide outside winter air in with a thermostat set at 55. it never gets warmer than 65 in the summer and is 55 from fall to spring, I think this will come close to giving me full life expectancy. I kept construction cost very low as I don’t have much in the way of extra money but felt this was an important investment to preserve my food investment. it also keeps my vegetables and other non storage type foods in good condition. I don’t open the door when it is warm outside the room so I have to plan. I hope to get one of those Remote AC units some day for the room if I can find a good cheap used one for this purpose. I don’t have AC for my little house but it does stay cool in the basement if I am careful about keeping it closed up in the warm months.

Deb

Deb

Just as I actually began shopping again I noticed that links HAD been added to the products under the additional info tab for some (but not all) items. Bravo! I would still strongly encourage direct links on the home page for both current and potential customers…So when folks like me want info to help in planning the source will be obvious.

All the Best, Deb V.

Deb

Deb

Let me say, I truly appreciate your efforts to honestly address shelf life and storage issues. In that light I would like to add my voice to encourage the idea of adding specific info and/or links to such info the product pages. Being somewhat new to these products, I have found it difficult to properly label a ‘best if use by’ dates for my personal stock. I confess that I only found this page because an Amazon customer was kind enough to include it in a review… A search from your home site did not reveal it! That is a problem. Even a dedicated link\dropdown (on the home page) to these specific topics would be most helpful. As a customer it IS difficult to plan and spend wisely so, I must look to you for basic product information that is imperative to my purchase decisions.

May I also humbly ask about your spice and sauce mixes? Am I correct in surmising that Alfredo Sauce mix will fall into the somewhat shorter shelf live category? How about the #10 cans of cheese I have purchased? Will straight #10 cans of flour hold up well? Are Spaghetti Seasoning and Tomato Powder considered more self-stable items? Please forgive me for asking so many questions. Thanks!

Thomas W

Thomas W

I know storing food or Freeze-Dried in a cool dark place enhances shelf life but what about in the refrigerator?

Christina

Christina

What is the shelf life of the Honey Toasted Oats Superpail? I don’t see anything indicating that. It’d take my family quite some time to finish this pail up, and I don’t want it spoiling before we get to it if we order several pails.

beprepared

beprepared

Hi, Lee.
There should be no difference between the two. Both are processed the same way, and both include an oxygen absorber.
The only difference I can think of is after they’re opened, since a 2.5 can would be used up much more quickly. They would still have the same shelf life, but some people may not realize how to properly store the food once it’s opened to optimize the shelf life.
Since I live alone, if I need to open a #10 can, I open it, use what I need, and immediately pour the rest of the food into a zip-top or food saver bag, get as much air out as I can, seal it, and put it back inside the can with the lid closed. That helps create as ideal an environment as possible after breaking the original seal.
I hope that helps!
Sarah

Paul Plominski

Paul Plominski

Having ordered your products over the past 5 years or so, I have only recently began writing the date of arrival on each of the case boxes. I’m trying to keep tract of older cases from newer purchased ones, so I can consume the older cans/cases first. I have yet to find a "manufactured date" or "canned on date" on any of your products and I know some cases have been inadvertently been mixed with older product. What is the possibility of having the ‘date of canning’ stamped on the can so we consumers can keep tract of the products we have on hand… the lot numbers would need a key for us to use to determine the dates.

Paul

beprepared

beprepared

Summer,
Great idea. I will talk to our product specialist and see if we can start adding the shelf life of the products into the additional info tabs of the product descriptions.
Angela

DonnaB

DonnaB

I know this question has probably been asked and answered, I just couldn’t find an exact reference for it. My food pantry is in the basement. The temps range over the year between 55 and 70, approx. Unfortunately, we live in a humid climate. If the packaging from you is unopened, will the humidity percentage make a difference? Or is it only a factor after your packing has been opened? Thanks!

Summer

Summer

Please under Additional Info put the shelf life of product. We have to search your entire site and then have to read all of the comments to see if the question has already been answered. I have to go to other seller’s websites to see what they say. I would rather look at your site and buy from you. You do have the best prices around. It is just a hassle. Thank you

beprepared

beprepared

Fan4you2,
That is a good idea. I will pass this on to the product specialist and see what he thinks.
Angela

fan4you2

fan4you2

Is there any way to put the "possible" shelf life of items right on the site so we can know when shopping (or even the can). I have read the shelf life article and everything I have questions about are not listed—things like the bread mixes, beef crubles, instant potatoes, and many more. Thank you for you time and consideration!!

beprepared

beprepared

Hi Patamuus,
Great question. First off, how long is your camping trip? Since you did a great job at storing your pouches in a controlled temperature, the pouch should be fine to eat on a camping trip lasting a couple of weeks. The main issue is a constant change in temperature during long term storage. So let’s say you had these pouches stored for 6 months, but they were in a place where it was extremely hot and extremely cold over this long period of time. Then, there would be an issue with it going bad or already being bad before you go on a short outdoor camping trip. The main issue is long term storage and the conditions it’s been kept in before. Also, Mountain House pouches have a shorter shelf life in general than cans. Mountain House Pouches have a shelf life of about 7 years. So if you’ve had the pouches stored for longer than that, that would also play a role in the pouches going bad sooner.

beprepared

beprepared

Radarphos,
Thanks for your comment. Sadly, we currently do not offer a shipping option with heat reflecting foil wraps. Typically, our products will ship to customers quickly enough that heat is not a major issue. However, this is a very good suggestion and something we should consider. I will pass your suggestion on to our operations manager to see what we can do to better prepare our products for temperature while shipping.
Angela

Melinda

Melinda

Purchased 2 cans of Provident Honey Cornbread muffin mix in Feb. 2011. (Only 3 years old). Kept at a steady 65 degree temp in a dark storeroom. Both are now bulging, I assume the yeast/leavening has activated. Is the mix still usable or should they be thrown out?

beprepared

beprepared

Hi Steve,
The recommended shelf life for MREs is 7 years just because of the type of packaging they’re stored in. It will be good for 7 years if they are not in fluctuating temperatures (extreme hot to extreme cold) and stored in a cool dark place. This is the recommended. To learn more about MRE shelf life, check out this article http://beprepared.com/insight/3496/mre-meal-ready-to-eat-shelf-life/. In this article, you’ll see that there may be some salvage to MREs over 20 years old. But check out what the article has to say about that. To stay on the safe side, rotate them every 7 years.

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