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There are no statutory requirements with regard to the maximum shelf life period. The shelf life of a food product is dependent on many factors. The nature, preparation and composition of the food as well as the packaging materials used and the packaging process thus play a decisive role.

It should be noted:
The best before date is not an expiration date!

Generally speaking, foodstuffs can be consumed significantly later than indicated on the packaging. The date specified on the packaging is not an expiration date on which the food will become spoilt but rather defines the point in time up to which the food will display no significant loss of quality or taste.

The composition, preparation and processing of the food, the packaging materials used, the production process and the integrity of the food producer all ultimately determine whether the food will keep for 2, 5, 10, 15 or 25 years.

Tinned foods exist as fully-preserved tinned products, semi-preserved tinned products, dried tinned products and tropically preserved products.

Tinned foods can be divided into fully-preserved, semi-preserved, dried and tropically preserved products. The classification as to what kind of tinned food is involved is determined by the core temperature achieved and the duration for which the temperature is applied during the sterilisation of the food in the tin. The higher the core temperature and the longer the process time, the more micro-organisms, bacteria and spores are killed in the foodstuff to be preserved. This kill rate is measured in the so-called F-value, a unit of the sterilisation process Ultimately, the higher the F-value, the longer the foodstuff can be kept in the tin.

The tinned food we buy in the supermarket today is always fully- or semi-preserved. The manufacturers of these foodstuffs provide for their food being consumed within 6 to 24 months. Therefore, during manufacture the tinned foods are only produced with a correspondingly low F-value and in order to reach a higher F-value, more energy and time must be applied during production for the achievement and maintenance of the higher temperatures, leading to higher production costs and, ultimately, the costs of the actual food being unnecessarily increased.

Not every tin has to last for ever.

Manufacturers permanently optimise their production processes so as to reduce production costs. Use of materials and energy costs already account for a large proportion of the cost of production of tinned foods in Europe. In order to reduce costs, the tinned foods we buy in the supermarket are only produced with the maximum necessary F-value and ever thinner material thicknesses of the tinplate or aluminium cans. In this way, the manufacturer can guarantee the shelf life of 6 to 24 months with low production costs.

Here at CONVAR foods, we are experts when it comes to the manufacture and development of food products which are to be stored for a long period of time - so called long term foodstuffs.

From the very start, our food products are designed for an extremely long shelf life under the most advserve conditions, and when selecting the raw material for each receipe and also the packaging materials, we take into account whether they are suitable for the necessary production processes in order to meet our high-quality standards even after a long storage period of over 10 years.

All foodstuffs produced by CONVAR for long-term storage are produced as tropically preserved products. This means that the more intensive heat treatment (longer and / or higher temperatures) also kills thermophilic spores.

Tropically preserved products produced by us under the DosenBistro and EF brands with a minimum shelf life of 10 years can be found here:


Experience with historically old tinned products

There are always new reports and evidence of tinned products being opened, examined and consumed after 70 or even 100 years. Micro-biologically, these foods were all still intact. However, this should not be taken to mean that the tinned products we buy in the supermarket can be kept for this long. In those days, material thicknesses were used for the production of the tins which were many times higher than the requirements today for sale in the supermarket. Furthermore, at that time all tinned products were produced as per the parameters now accorded to tropically preserved products.

Interesting fact

Tinned bread from the second world war edible

bread-2-world-warAs the WELT newspaper reported back in July 2002, an 84-year old man found a box of 20 tins of bread from the second world war in the corner of his garage. He then made the tins available to the European Bread Museum in Ebergötzen (Northern Germany). The appropriate food supervisory authority of the district of Siegen examined the black bread and classified it as "still edible". Theexperts were amazed. According to contemporary witnesses and experts, the shelf life of tinned bread is about ten years, however, the specified minimum shelf life even today is only a modest two years. Tinned bread can actually achieve a shelf life of more than 50 years!

Briton eats 50-year old tinned chicken

chicken-ukAmong many other things, when they married in 1956, the British couple Les and Beryl Lailey received a tin of chicken. They kept the tin in the kitchen cupboard until their 50th wedding anniversary when Mr Lailey implemented his plan. He had always said that he would open the tin and eat the contents on their 50th wedding anniversary. The 73-year old tasted the 50-year-old chicken and thought it was excellent. Just a bit too salty, reckoned Mr Lailey.

Your conserva.de team

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