Aside from clipping coupons and scouring through circulars and flyers, some consumers turn to other methods to save on their next grocery bill, including purchasing from discounted bins and hand-selecting dented can foods that are sold for a fraction of the price. While there are some that may scoff at the idea— there are some dangers to purchasing dented can foods— the truth of the matter is that most slightly dented cans are perfectly safe to eat. You just need to know which ones get the green light and which ones you should pass up entirely. To learn 3 simple identifying techniques to determine whether a dented can is safe to purchase or not, continue reading below.
1. Check for a ‘Popping’ Noise. By far one of the easiest ways to tell whether a dented canned good is safe to purchase is to examine the top and the bottom of the can and push on both ends. If you hear a ‘popping’ noise or the ends seems to bulge up, then this is an immediate red flag. That popping noise or bulging indicates that air has seeped inside of the can and the seal has been broken—once the seal is broken bacteria immediately begins to fester, so do not purchase these types of cans. In fact, it would probably be best to report them to the store manager so that he or she can discard the good(s) indefinitely— you don’t want to risk someone who doesn’t know how to identify unsafe dented cans to buy them and get botulism. With that said, it’s usually best to avoid cans that are dented at either ends, especially at the seams. This is because a can’s seams are the most vulnerable spots. If a can is slightly dented in that area but the seal isn’t broken just yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t break once transporting it to your pantry. Thus it’s better to buy dented cans that are “slightly” damaged on the sides.
2. Look at the Physical Condition of the Can. While yes the can won’t look perfect (after all it is indeed dented) there are other warnings signs that may indicate that the can is bad or will go bad very shortly. For example, if the can is rusted, you shouldn’t purchase it. This is because rust indicates the can is corroding, which can cause leaks and food spoilage. You should also be suspicious of food cans that have torn or discolored labels—this may indicate that the can has been on the shelf for an extended period of time.
3. Investigate Once More Before Consuming. If the dented can passed the identification tips listed above, the last way to check if the can is good to see what happens right when you open it—if it sprays liquid or explodes, the food is spoiled and you should throw it out right away. Always remember that safe cans will open just the same as non-dented cans. If you need double confirmation, look at the inside of the lid and check to see if it’s rusted. You may also want to smell the food—try to waft don’t directly stick your nose in it. If there is a foul odor, then the food is obviously spoiled. Don’t try to see if it “tastes” funny, if the smallest amount of food contaminated with botulism it can result in death.