Canned Food Safety
Eating from dented cans is not always unsafe. That is a myth that has led to a waste of food and money. It is true that some dented cans are unsafe, but a majority of dented cans are completely safe to eat!
How to determine if a can is safe
Push on the top, bottom, and sides of the can: If the can moves or makes a popping sound, the can’s seal is broken and air has made its way inside. Discard popped cans or return them to the store where you purchased them for replacement. If the can does not make a noise or move, it is most likely safe to eat even though it is dented.
Check for bulging and bloating: If the can is bulging and bloated, it is most likely unsafe. Cans will bulge and bloat when bacteria begins to produce gases, which push the can outward. You also can tell by looking at the dented can to see if it is rusting. Rust can weaken the can and allow air and bacteria to enter it.
Avoid cans that are dented on the top or bottom: Sometimes cans are fine when they originally get dented, but after a period of time, they begin to display some of the above changes. So when buying dented cans, try to avoid ones that are dented on the top or bottom. These are where the main seams are located and where the can is its weakest. Alternatively, if the can is dented along the side, it is most likely safe to eat.
Discard dented cans that spray or explode when opened: You also can tell if a dented can is safe to eat when you open it. Once you puncture the can with a can opener, it should not spray or explode. If it does spray or explode, do not eat the food because it is perhaps contaminated. Safe dented cans will open the same as undented cans.
Campbell N. How to tell if a dented can is safe to use.
Available at: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1175422/how_to_tell_if_a_dented_can_is_safe.html?cat=25. Accessed January 16, 2012.
Contributed by Andrea Termotto, RD, CDN
Review Date 1/12