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Jul 17, 2002 03:18 AM

Refrigerating canned food is it bad idea?

  • c

A friend has told me that refrigerating canned food is a very bad thing to do. Something about bacteria growth. I don't see any logic in this. I refridgerate stuff like canned tuna that I like to eat cold.

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  1. You should put the food in a non reactive container like Tupperware or a Ziplock plastic bag.

    2 Replies
    1. re: russkar

      Yeah, like that container of vodka sauce...

      1. re: chino wayne

        Like, who's got leftovers?

    2. It is only dangerous if the can has been opened. It is very unwise to store an opened tin can in the fridge. Nasty bacterial growth.

      Unless the can has been damaged it should be problem if it is unopened.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JudiAU
        Richard Gould-Saltman

        OK, somebody's dispensing bad science, or pseudo-science here.

        Canned food is more or less sterile when you open it. That's what canning is supposed to do. Once you open it, you let in de bugs.

        If you "de-can" it into a plastic container, oxidized metal products (which result in that "tinny" flavor) won't be produced by having the food sit in an open can. This has nothing to do with bacteria at all.

        HOWEVER, I can see no reason why (previously) canned cooked food would deteriorate any faster than any other cooked food in a refrigerator, nor can I see any possible reason that refrigeration would speed up, rather than slow bacterial spoilage. That's why we have refrigeration to begin with.

        If anyone wants to offer an EXPLANATION of a contrary view, I'm more than willing to be told I'm wrong.

        Richard G-S

        1. re: Richard Gould-Saltman

          I'd tend to agree. I have no proof one way or th other, but let's look at some facts:

          Cans are generally made from aluminium or steel.
          Cans these days are usually treated on the inside and out with a protective layer to prevent oxidisation.
          Cans are sterile (inside) upon being sealed.
          Both aluminium and steel do oxidize, hence the coating.
          If the coating is removed (by strong acids in the food, or at the point the can is opened) the material is free to oxidize.
          There are no proven health risks to consuming small quantities of rust or aluminium oxide.
          However, I'm not sure whether there are any foods that could react to this? It could all come down to the contents.

          And as an aside, if we get to the bottom of this, we should also get a conclusive answer on how safe dented cans are.

          1. re: Soop

            When I have a dented can, I just let it sit a few weeks and if it doesn't puff up, I feel free to use it. Especially if it makes a vacuum release sound on opening, then you know it's still sealed. If not, hopefully it's something that can be cooked for awhile to make sure. Opposite of conclusive, I know. But the health inspector makes restaurants and institutions get rid of dented cans, they return them to their purveyor, and you know where they go then? Not in the garbage, but to food pantries and homeless shelters etc, they still get used.

            1. re: coll

              I always thought that dented cans were supposedly dangerous because the lining was broken. In retrospect this doesn't makes sense, as there was no lining at one point in history, and it's still a vacuum (presuming it's unbreached as you say)

      2. Oh let's just bring this discussion to it's inevitable conclusion as quickly as possible. You know it's just a matter of time until somebody's gonna say "A Chowhound shouldn't eat food from a can to begin with." So there, I said it. Let's move on.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Monkey C
          Richard Gould-Saltman

          "You know it's just a matter of time until somebody's gonna say "A Chowhound shouldn't eat food from a can to begin with." So there, I said it. Let's move on."

          As I suspect you know, them's fightin' words.

          I'll be ducking now; let me know when it's over....


          1. re: Monkey C

            but what about all that wonderful seafood that they can in Spain/Barcelona? i've had cans of shellfish that have cost over $100 for about 10 ounces of product.

            1. re: Monkey C

              When jfood read the OP he felt the same way. But he will also add that there was a thread a few months ago titled "threads I will not respond to"...good advice on that as well.

            2. I've had this discussion with my mom before, and according to MOM, storing food in an open can in the refrigerator used to be a terrible idea because cans were made differently. Today it's just fine. Is this actually true? You got me.

              1. If you move this thread to the General Topics board--where it really belongs-- you might get more answers.