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Safe Dented Pictures Of Unsafe Dented Cans

A dented can of crushed pineapple

Photo: Shutterstock/Allrecipes

Have you seen unlabeled or scratch-and-dent canned goods at a discount? Discovered a can on the grocery store shelf with a dent under the label? While they may be sold for less, that doesn’t mean it’s worth taking the risk. Botulism from dented cans may be a rarity but it can still be an issue if canned goods are damaged.

Using canned goods like beans, veggies or soups can be a great way to start or stretch a meal. While most cans are without dents or issues, what should you do when you come home with a dented can or find one in the store? By following a few simple steps, you can buy canned goods with the confidence that you can consume their contents safely.


Ask the USDA: Are Dented Cans Dangerous?

When we look for food safety information, going to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for verification is a great source. The USDA suggests the following steps to determine if a dented can is safe or dangerous:

  • Keep and use: A can with a small dent that is in good shape otherwise, and has no denting at the seam of the can.

  • Discard: If the dent is in the seam of the can, that means that air and moisture may have a more direct path.

  • Discard: Deeply dented cans. If you can lay your finger in the dent, that’s too deep. It’s better to be safe and discard or return the can.

  • Discard: If the dent has sharp edges, again — most likely not safe and may mean the can is compromised with bacteria.


Warning Signs That a Dented Can Is Unsafe to Eat

While a dent may come in any shape or form, there are obvious signs that a can has become unsafe. Look for the following signs on the exterior of the can:

  • Bulging or swollen

  • Leaking liquid or other contents

  • Obvious damage or cracks

After opening the can, watch for other dangerous signs like:

  • Spurting foam or liquid when opened like pressure is being released

  • Discolored food

  • Food that looks abnormal

  • Discolored or abnormally-colored liquid surrounding the food

  • Mold

  • Bad odors


Does Cooking the Contents of a Dented Can Remove The Danger?

Despite being a dangerous foodborne toxin, Botulism can be destroyed with heat. Heating food to a typical cooking temperature of 176 degrees F (80 degrees C) for 30 minutes or 212 degrees F (100 degrees C) for 10 minutes before consumption can greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illness. However, it’s not good to rely on heat to kill off botulism toxins. If you have a deeply-dented or bulging can, it is still best to not consume the food. As the old adage goes, “when in doubt, throw it out.”


More About Botulism From Canned Goods

If you become sick after eating food, it can be easy to pinpoint if you have food poisoning or not. Botulism symptoms are not as easy to determine on a timeline but can be far more dangerous than typical food poisoning. The varied response times make it even more imperative to be careful with deeply dented or bulging cans. So, what if you accidentally eat the contents of a dented can and aren’t sure if it was deeply dented? Botulism is a more deadly food poisoning that can attack the body’s nervous system. Determining possible symptoms and finding care quickly is imperative if you think you’ve consumed food from unsafe, dented cans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this is what you should know and look out for with foodborne botulism symptoms:

  • Symptoms usually appear within 18 to 36 hours of eating contaminated foods (but could show up in as little as 6 hours).

  • Symptoms all result from muscle paralysis caused by the toxin and can include (but are not limited to) difficulty swallowing or breathing, muscle weakness, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, drooping eyelids, difficulty moving the eyes, and more.

  • Botulism in infants may not appear for much longer, up to 30 days.

While these symptoms may sound frightening, contamination is actually rare. You can avoid botulism from canned goods by discarding or returning any questionable cans.


What Happens Inside a Dented Can to Make It Unsafe?

While regular food poisoning can be a bad thing, the Clostridium botulinum (botulism) bacteria can have far worse symptoms than food poisoning, causing extreme intestinal issues, and even death.

While the bacteria causes big issues, it can enter into a can at a tiny opening, like one created by a deep dent. Cans and their contents are sealed during packing to keep out air and moisture. When a can has a dent that breaches the exterior, air and moisture can enter and grow botulism bacteria, contaminating the food. When air and moisture meet inside the can, bacteria grows more quickly to contaminate the food. Once that contamination takes place, botulism can be present and dangerous for consumption.

When botulism grows at the impact of a dent, it may cause cans to bulge or open into sharp gashes. If you have bulging or deeply-dented cans in your pantry at any point, be sure to return or discard them.


Are Dented Beer and Soda Cans Safe?

Up until the 1960s and 1970s, most beer and soda cans were made from the same type of steel used for canned goods because it keeps the contents safe and helps maintain nutritional values in processing. Because of the use of steel for beverage cans prior to the ’70s, canned beverages were susceptible to the same botulism risk as vegetables, soups, and other canned goods

Once the beverage industry switched over to aluminum because it was lighter and easier to transport, the risk went away because aluminum doesn’t bear the same botulism risk if punctured. If your beer or soda can has a dent, drink away!


You’ve Found a Dented Can, Now What?

If you’re in the store and discover a badly dented can, carefully take it to the customer service desk or alert a store employee. Removing the can and determining if the can had contact with other products can assist the store in keeping other shoppers safe. Further, reporting any bulging or dented cans to your grocery store can help them determine if additional cans are damaged. If the issue is more widespread, they can reach out to food authorities and have dangerous cans removed in larger quantities too.

If you find a dented can once you return home from the grocery store, take a closer look. If you’ve dropped the can in the driveway and dented it, consider using the contents immediately or simply discard it. If the can was dented in the store before it came home with you, taking it back to the store is again an option.


What to Do With Your Safe, Non-Dented Cans?

One of the biggest benefits of canned goods is that they are shelf-stable. They can provide the base for many different recipes or work on their own. By choosing and maintaining canned goods that aren’t dented or bulging, you can have a well-stocked pantry for years to come. Once you’ve checked your cans to make sure there are no dents, what can you make with canned veggies, soups, fruits, and proteins? Check out our canned goods recipe round-up to make all kinds of yummy entrees, snacks, desserts, and meals.

Did you know there are at least 30 ways to use canned green beans and 8 ways to use canned potatoes?


Have you seen unlabeled or scratch-and-dent canned goods at a discount? Discovered a can on the grocery store shelf with a dent under the label? While they may be sold for less, that doesn’t mean it’s worth taking the risk. Botulism from dented cans may be a rarity but it can still be an issue if canned goods are damaged.

Using canned goods like beans, veggies or soups can be a great way to start or stretch a meal. While most cans are without dents or issues, what should you do when you come home with a dented can or find one in the store? By following a few simple steps, you can buy canned goods with the confidence that you can consume their contents safely.


Ask the USDA: Are Dented Cans Dangerous?

When we look for food safety information, going to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for verification is a great source. The USDA suggests the following steps to determine if a dented can is safe or dangerous:

  • Keep and use: A can with a small dent that is in good shape otherwise, and has no denting at the seam of the can.

  • Discard: If the dent is in the seam of the can, that means that air and moisture may have a more direct path.

  • Discard: Deeply dented cans. If you can lay your finger in the dent, that’s too deep. It’s better to be safe and discard or return the can.

  • Discard: If the dent has sharp edges, again — most likely not safe and may mean the can is compromised with bacteria.


Warning Signs That a Dented Can Is Unsafe to Eat

While a dent may come in any shape or form, there are obvious signs that a can has become unsafe. Look for the following signs on the exterior of the can:

  • Bulging or swollen

  • Leaking liquid or other contents

  • Obvious damage or cracks

After opening the can, watch for other dangerous signs like:

  • Spurting foam or liquid when opened like pressure is being released

  • Discolored food

  • Food that looks abnormal

  • Discolored or abnormally-colored liquid surrounding the food

  • Mold

  • Bad odors


Does Cooking the Contents of a Dented Can Remove The Danger?

Despite being a dangerous foodborne toxin, Botulism can be destroyed with heat. Heating food to a typical cooking temperature of 176 degrees F (80 degrees C) for 30 minutes or 212 degrees F (100 degrees C) for 10 minutes before consumption can greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illness. However, it’s not good to rely on heat to kill off botulism toxins. If you have a deeply-dented or bulging can, it is still best to not consume the food. As the old adage goes, “when in doubt, throw it out.”


More About Botulism From Canned Goods

If you become sick after eating food, it can be easy to pinpoint if you have food poisoning or not. Botulism symptoms are not as easy to determine on a timeline but can be far more dangerous than typical food poisoning. The varied response times make it even more imperative to be careful with deeply dented or bulging cans. So, what if you accidentally eat the contents of a dented can and aren’t sure if it was deeply dented? Botulism is a more deadly food poisoning that can attack the body’s nervous system. Determining possible symptoms and finding care quickly is imperative if you think you’ve consumed food from unsafe, dented cans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this is what you should know and look out for with foodborne botulism symptoms:

  • Symptoms usually appear within 18 to 36 hours of eating contaminated foods (but could show up in as little as 6 hours).

  • Symptoms all result from muscle paralysis caused by the toxin and can include (but are not limited to) difficulty swallowing or breathing, muscle weakness, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, drooping eyelids, difficulty moving the eyes, and more.

  • Botulism in infants may not appear for much longer, up to 30 days.

While these symptoms may sound frightening, contamination is actually rare. You can avoid botulism from canned goods by discarding or returning any questionable cans.


What Happens Inside a Dented Can to Make It Unsafe?

While regular food poisoning can be a bad thing, the Clostridium botulinum (botulism) bacteria can have far worse symptoms than food poisoning, causing extreme intestinal issues, and even death.

While the bacteria causes big issues, it can enter into a can at a tiny opening, like one created by a deep dent. Cans and their contents are sealed during packing to keep out air and moisture. When a can has a dent that breaches the exterior, air and moisture can enter and grow botulism bacteria, contaminating the food. When air and moisture meet inside the can, bacteria grows more quickly to contaminate the food. Once that contamination takes place, botulism can be present and dangerous for consumption.

When botulism grows at the impact of a dent, it may cause cans to bulge or open into sharp gashes. If you have bulging or deeply-dented cans in your pantry at any point, be sure to return or discard them.


Are Dented Beer and Soda Cans Safe?

Up until the 1960s and 1970s, most beer and soda cans were made from the same type of steel used for canned goods because it keeps the contents safe and helps maintain nutritional values in processing. Because of the use of steel for beverage cans prior to the ’70s, canned beverages were susceptible to the same botulism risk as vegetables, soups, and other canned goods

Once the beverage industry switched over to aluminum because it was lighter and easier to transport, the risk went away because aluminum doesn’t bear the same botulism risk if punctured. If your beer or soda can has a dent, drink away!


You’ve Found a Dented Can, Now What?

If you’re in the store and discover a badly dented can, carefully take it to the customer service desk or alert a store employee. Removing the can and determining if the can had contact with other products can assist the store in keeping other shoppers safe. Further, reporting any bulging or dented cans to your grocery store can help them determine if additional cans are damaged. If the issue is more widespread, they can reach out to food authorities and have dangerous cans removed in larger quantities too.

If you find a dented can once you return home from the grocery store, take a closer look. If you’ve dropped the can in the driveway and dented it, consider using the contents immediately or simply discard it. If the can was dented in the store before it came home with you, taking it back to the store is again an option.


What to Do With Your Safe, Non-Dented Cans?

One of the biggest benefits of canned goods is that they are shelf-stable. They can provide the base for many different recipes or work on their own. By choosing and maintaining canned goods that aren’t dented or bulging, you can have a well-stocked pantry for years to come. Once you’ve checked your cans to make sure there are no dents, what can you make with canned veggies, soups, fruits, and proteins? Check out our canned goods recipe round-up to make all kinds of yummy entrees, snacks, desserts, and meals.

Did you know there are at least 30 ways to use canned green beans and 8 ways to use canned potatoes?


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how to know if DENTED food cans are “still” good

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