People have learned over the decades to trust their canned goods. Look at any depiction of a bomb shelter, and it will be littered with canned goods, since they are expected, by common assumption, to be able to outlast even a nuclear winter.

The canned good has done a lot of good for humanity. The food does last a very long time, and that means it can be used by soldiers and be sent out to give relief to those suffering from disasters.

But just because canned goods last a long time does not mean they last forever. This assumption that canned goods can’t go bad is a dangerous one for the simple reason that some people will eat bad food out of a can and simply ignore the signs it could pose a health risk because of where it came from.

While it has been found that botulism in canned goods has been nearly eliminated in America, cases do spring up every now and again, most likely due to that assumption that nothing bad could be in a can.

The fact is, no manufacturing process is perfect, and canning is just like everything else. Errors are certain to happen, even if they are extremely rare. By simply assuming nothing can be wrong, people leave themselves open for a potentially grave mistake.

It is important to keep in mind that there are large food recalls every year, and some of that food is found in cans. It is important to keep abreast of these recalls, whether they affect canned goods or not.

People also don’t realize that storing food in the cans after they are opened can lead to other bacteria getting into the food. While the can is closed airtight, it is usually very safe, but once it is open, that metal can bring in a lot of undesirable bacteria.

The best policy with canned goods is the same one taken with other food. If it is past its sell-by date, don’t eat it. If the container looks disfigured (either dented enough there may be a whole or especially if it is ballooning out), don’t eat it. If the food inside the container looks or smells strange, don’t eat it. If the food has been opened and left in the can for more than a few hours, don’t eat it.

These simple, common sense points will help to all but eliminate the risk of botulism contacted through cans.

Remember, while the risk is already rare, that doesn’t mean there is no risk. Eat smart, store smart, and never take a risk when it comes to food. It may seem almost unthinkable at the time, but eating something that has gone bad can have absolutely horrible consequences. It’s better to always play it safe.