Can you use canned tomato paste after the expiration date? (3+ signs of spoilage)
In this article, we answer the following question: “Can you use canned tomato paste after the expiration date?” and discuss what are the risks of using canned tomato paste after the expiration date, what is the shelf life of canned tomato paste, how to know if canned tomato paste is spoiled and how to store canned tomato paste.
Can you use canned tomato paste after the expiration date?
Yes, you can use canned tomato paste after the expiration date, if there are no signs of spoilage in the product and no damage to the can, such as rusting or dents and no swelling.
Usually, food can be safely consumed after its expiration date, unless an altered odour, appearance, texture or colour is noticed (1). Canned tomato paste is thermally processed in a way that it has an extended shelf life at room temperature (2).
In addition, canned tomato paste is an acidic food with a pH of 4.3 or below. This pH value can inhibit most pathogenic bacteria, reducing the risks of causing food outbreaks.
On the other hand, microbial spoilage is possible, as well as spoilage due to chemical reactions occurring during long storage, which reduce the quality of the tomato paste (3, 4).
What are the risks of tomato paste after the expiration date?
The risks of using canned tomato paste after the expiration date are consuming a spoiled product or a product with reduced quality and reduced nutritional properties (3).
Microbial spoilage of canned tomato paste is possible in some cases, including (4):
- The development of spore-forming bacteria during storage
- The contamination of the tomatoes with fungi which produce toxins that are not destroyed during the heat treatment
- The contamination during the production process or canning
- The contamination of cans (such as through damage to the cans)
Food outbreaks have been reported involving canned tomato paste, related to the pathogens Bacillus coagulans and Clostridium botulinum, which are two spore-forming bacteria.
The reduction of the nutritional properties of the tomato paste is caused by reactions that occur in the food components, such as (3, 4):
- Maillard reactions between amino acids and sugars, which may generate hydroxymethylfurfural and change the colour and the flavour of the product
- Oxidation reactions of the lipids and vitamins in the tomato paste, which may generate off-odours and off-flavours
What is the shelf life of canned tomato paste?
The shelf life of canned tomato paste is, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, 27 months at room temperature when kept unopened.
Once opened, the product should be transferred to an airtight food container, placed in the refrigerated and consumed within 5 to 7 days or stored in the freezer to be consumed within 2 to 3 months (4).
However, the exact shelf life of canned tomato paste is unknown, as it depends on many factors, such as the storage conditions, the quality of the tomatoes used to produce it, the production process and the ingredients used (2, 3, 4).
How to know if canned tomato paste is spoiled?
To know if canned tomato paste is spoiled, you should be aware of possible signs of spoilage in the product and signs of damage in the cans, such as (3, 4, 5):
- Generation of off-odours and off-flavours, such as oxidised, rancid and bitter
- Changes in the colour, such as browning or loss of red colour
- Growth of mould, formation of gas
- Swelling of the can, roasted can or damaged can
How to store tomato paste?
To store unopened tomato paste and improve its shelf life, you should keep it in a cool and dark place in the pantry, away from heat sources and protected from light. The ideal temperature is below 70 °F (20 °C) (6).
After opening the can, place the tomato paste in a food container store it in the refrigerator or freezer and protect it from oxygen and moisture.
Other FAQs about Tomato Paste that you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the following question: “Can you use canned tomato paste after the expiration date?” and discussed the risks of using canned tomato paste after the expiration date, what is the shelf life of canned tomato paste, how to know if tomato paste is spoiled and how to store canned tomato paste.
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