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How long will canned meat last anyway?

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Everybody likes a good canned meat joke, right? You know, Spam, stuff like that. But determining how long a shelf life you can expect from your food provisions is deadly serious business to the modern survivalist. The short answer is “a heck of a long time.” More than 100 years to be precise.

The following story illustrates what we’re talking about.

In the 1820’s, Sir William Edward Parry made two arctic expeditions to the Northwest Passage. Since he didn’t want his diet to consist entirely of seal blubber and roasted snow bunnies, he took provisions with him. One of the cans he took on both voyages, which was never opened, was a four-pound tin of roast veal. The can eventually made its way, as an artifact of the expedition, to a museum until it was opened in 1938.

A chemical analysis revealed the contents retained most of the nutritional value and was in almost perfect condition. Since none of the museum staff volunteered to taste the stuff, it was fed to a cat, which gulped it down and showed no ill effects whatsoever.

The point here is not to find out which species can eat the oldest canned meat and survive. The point is that preserved meat placed into storage for emergency provisions will be good for a very long time. You might not want to test the century mark, but expect it to be good for 15-20 years easily.

The Holistic Survival Team

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