Preserved Foods and Food Safety
Many people use canned and
preserved foods as a staple of their diet. Canned foods are easy and
convenient. They may also be more accessible than fresh foods in some areas of
the world. While canned foods have advantages they also have risks. Several
food safety issues are associated with preservation and canning.
The Dangers of High Sodium
Canned foods often contain a
tremendous amount of salt. Few bacteria thrive in high-salt environments.
Therefore, high-salt foods have a longer shelf life
Unfortunately, a high-salt diet
isn’t a healthy one. It’s associated with:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- congestive heart failure
Anyone trying to limit salt intake
should avoid canned foods as much as possible. Some low-salt options may also
Be Careful of Damaged Cans
Salt isn’t the only potential risk
found in canned foods. Contaminated cans can potentially lead to serious health
problems. To reduce risk, never eat food from a damaged can. Cans that have
bulges in them may be full of gas-producing bacteria. These bacteria can cause
the can to get “bent out of shape.” Throw out any can that looks suspicious.
Home Canning Cautions
Home canning can be a great way to
preserve fresh produce and family recipes, if food is canned safely. This
usually means pressure canning. High-acidity foods, such as tomatoes, can be
safely canned using boiling water techniques. However, boiling is not a safe
enough way to clean jars before canning low-acidity food.
Low-acidity food can sometimes be
contaminated with Clostridium
botulinum. This bacterium is found in soil. It’s not killed by high
heat. Over time, any bacteria in a canning jar can grow and produce botulism
toxin. Eating this toxin can make you very ill. It can even be fatal.
There is no way to detect Clostridium
contamination. It doesn’t cause a change in smell or taste.
More information about safe
canning techniques can be found at FoodSafety.gov