You will tend to find dates on certain types of canned products.
Other times, the dates are for the purpose of helping grocery stores know when to rotate.
If you want, you can skip to the short and sweet answer at the bottom. The answer to the last questions is no, canned foods, including vegetables, soups, meats, etc., do not spoil that quickly at all. Recommended Book: Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World First, if you look through some of the cans in your pantry, you might notice that not all of them have dates. Baby food and evaporated milk both have expiration dates.
For example, canned soup will have expiration dates more often than canned veggies.
The family who donated it thought it to contain plum pudding, and had used it for many years as a door-stop!
Another donated can contained roast mutton, dated 1849, part of another long voyage, an expedition to search for the missing Captain Sir John Franklin, who was overdue from his trip to the artic to find a northwest passage, the same purpose of the expedition above.
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These cans dated from the early 1800's when, unlike the average food can today, food was packed in cans which held over seven pounds of food.
The third container, from 1900, contained the plum pudding (or 'Christmas pudding) thought to be in the first can. There were trapped gases in the cans, either carbon dioxide or hydrogen, but neither seemed to be due to microorganisms.
The carbon dioxide, in the plum pudding, may have been due to the baking soda or some other leavening agent.
The oldest analyzed was a can of roast veal dating from 1823, manufacured by Donkin's company, which makes it basically as old as any canned food can be.
The veal had quite a history, being a part of the 1824 Artic expedition of Captain Sir Edward Parry, on the HMS Fury.