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Spam Shelf Life: What To Know About Expiration & Going Bad

Spam Shelf Life: What To Know About Expiration & Going Bad

A common food staple that is found in grocery stores all over the world is Spam. This is a unique canned pork product that was first unveiled and sold by Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937.

Due to its low price and Spam shelf life in its canned container, Spam gained a lot of popularity as a canned luncheon meat during the World War II era.

Eventually, the trend caught on internationally, and today it is still made by Hormel Food and can be found in over 40 countries across the globe.

Spam is enjoyed by people on a regular basis due to its good (though salty) taste, high protein content and convenient form of cooked pork. It makes a great emergency protein for when something like a power outage makes cooking difficult.

While Spam continues to be quite popular (and a bit more expensive), there are situations in which you may open a can of Spam and not end up eating all the contents

In these cases, it is common to wonder what the shelf life of spam is. There are various tips and points to consider when determining what to do with any leftover spam. 

How Should you Store Unopened Spam?

When purchasing a can of Spam, it will come in an airtight can that helps to preserve the meat. Similar to other types of canned meat or lunch meat, it can continue to last and be safe to eat for a long time as long as it is stored at room temperature.

You can store the cans of Spam in your home’s pantry while ideally keeping the temperature below 75 degrees. It is important to check the expiration date on the can and occasionally go through your canned food to ensure there are no signs of spoilage. 

How Can you Prepare Leftover Spam?

If you have prepared a meal using Spam and there is some leftover, you will have many options for how to use the rest. Spam can be a great alternative to ham and other pork products. Due to this, it can be a good replacement for any meal.

Many people will use leftover Spam to mix with fried rice, eggs or put on breakfast sandwiches the next day. The leftover meat can also be enjoyed during lunch or dinner in a sandwich or as the focal point of a meal with canned vegetables and other sides.

There are endless amounts of recipes you can enjoy making fun and created meals. 

How Should Leftover Spam Be Stored?

Spam has a very long shelf life as long as it remains within the original unopened container. However, once it has been opened, you need to take proper precautions to ensure it continues to taste good and is safe to eat.

Ideally, you should continue to store the spam in the original airtight container. While there will still be bacteria within the container, it can keep excess air out that will help to keep the Spam’s taste and texture.

Beyond placing Spam in the airtight container, you should also keep it in your fridge. The cold air within the fridge will help to preserve the Spam and can extend its consumable life by as much as a week.

If you have left the Spam out of the fridge accidentally for more than a few hours, it would be wise to throw it away.

What is the shelf life of spam after opening the can?

When it is left in the can, Spam can last for several years. However, once it has been opened, it is vulnerable to the same risk of spoiling as any other type of processed meat.

Due to this, it is important that you do not wait too long to consume it. It is generally recommended that you eat the Spam within 7 days of opening the can.

However, you should continue to be safe eating it up to a week after the can opening, as long as it was properly stored afterwards. 

What is the Spam shelf life of an unopened can?

Due to the way Spam is preserved with sodium and stored in modern cans that form an airtight container, there is minimal risk that bacteria or air will get into the can.

Because of this, a can of Spam can last for up to three to five years as long as it is stored properly (similar to ramen). This should include storing it in a pantry that does not get warmer than room temperature. You can also consider storing it in the fridge if you have ample space.

While Spam has a long shelf life of several years, it is important to always take precautions before opening a can. If the can is dented or leaking, it could be a sign that the Spam is spoiled. 

How long will leftover spam last in the freezer?

If you have prepared a meal with Spam and have some leftover, another option would be to store it in the freezer. As Spam stored in the fridge will only last for up to a week, storing it in the freezer (or freeze dryer!) is a better option if you do not intend to eat any for several weeks or months into the future.

If it is properly stored and sealed, Spam can last for a long time. Generally, it will continue to taste its best if you eat it within three months. However, as long as you keep the freezer below 0 degrees Celsius, the Spam will have an indefinite shelf life. 

To ensure that your Spam is safe to eat after being in the freezer, it is important that you store it the right way. You should focus on storing the Spam in an airtight container or vacuum sealer / freezer bag.

This will help prevent any bacteria from getting in, will allow you to avoid freezer burn and can keep the Spam tasting good for much longer. 

Can you get botulism from expired canned food?

One concern that anyone will have with eating Spam, or any other canned meat and food, is the risk of botulism. Botulism is a harmful bacterium that is rare, but could cause serious health concerns for someone affected by it.

Generally, botulism is very difficult to detect, which makes it important for you to take proper precautions when having any type of canned food. 

A great way that you can avoid botulism is by not eating canned food that is spoiled or appears to be damaged or tampered with. Once a can has a small crack or has spoiled, it will make it much easier for the bacteria to get into the can and spread.

You should ensure that you are not eating any type of canned meat past the expiration date and are not having food if it looks, smells, or tastes bad. This can help reduce the risk of botulism as well as many other harmful types of bacteria. 

Signs that Spam Has Started to Go Bad

There are various precautions that should be taken that can help to keep your Spam safe to eat, even after the original can has been opened.

However, there are signs that you should avoid Spam, even if the can has not been opened. Some of the most common signs that you should avoid Spam include the following:

  • There are visible issues with the can. If the Spam can does not have a flat top, has dents, has been opened, or appears to have been tampered with, you should not eat it.
  • The can is leaking.
  • If upon opening the can of Spam, it smells foul, or you notice an odd color to the meat, it is a clear sign that it has been spoiled.
  • The expiration date on the can is past due, or you have exceeded the recommended date for consuming leftover opened Spam.

Overall, Spam continues to be a great option for those that are looking for canned pork. While it is shelf-stable and can last in your pantry for years, there are signs to look out for that can indicate it has been spoiled.

Following these tips can help you avoid eating spoiled Spam and prevent the right of various bacterial diseases.