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The myths of ‘expiration dates’.

December 28, 2013

Hello, everyone. We hope you all had a wonderful Christmastime with friends and family.

Let’s have a chat about the myth of ‘expiration dates’ on canned foods and prescription medicines. I can distill the ramblings of food and drug manufacturers concerning these ‘dates of doom’ down into about one word: ‘bunk’.

Preppers are big on long term storage of food, goods and medicines. Having a stash of goods is key to being a prepper at the very base of the entire adventure. All beginning preppers have concerns, rightly so, about how well their factory canned and home canned food reserves will last, sitting on our stash pantry shelves. And many have grave concerns about their medications,  particularly us folks who depend on some sort of prescription concoction to keep us marginally functional. Good news on both counts: these dates are for ‘freshness’ and ‘quality’ issues, nothing more. You may have noticed that commercially canned food products usually have a ‘sell by’ or similar statement instead of something implying an expiration.

Home canning, an enterprise almost all serious preppers engage in, is by far safer than most commercially prepared canned foods if the home canner is serious about sanitation, preparation and procedure. Following the simple, but rigorous instructions found all over the web and loads of canning books, will give the home canner food that is safe and delicious, and will have an average shelf life of about 2 to 5 years. One can even take home canning courses at some college or county extension offices. Your home canned goods must be dated, just like the commercial stuff and consumed with the oldest date first so that you can make best use of all that fine food and work. Your commercial foods also last that long. HOWEVER, any commercially canned food item that you find in a dented, rusted, bulging, or leaking can IS NOT TO EVEN BE TASTED, or if your home canned item has lost it’s vacuum seal allowing the lid to ‘pop’ when pressed down, or if it looks peculiar, as shown here. Items found in that condition are telling you loud and clear: DO NOT EAT ME!

bad home canningspoiled cans 2





One escape clause concerning dented cans. IF, and I strongly say IF, you have dented the can yourself during an accidental dropping (or scuffle at some supply facility over the last few cans on the shelf) it will be alright to consume PROMPTLY. But finding a dented can lying in the street for who knows how long, that one I wouldn’t trust.

As far as prescription medications go, just about any that are in pill or capsule form, if properly kept cool and dry, will last 5 years from the date received from the drug store. We have the Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) that was initiated by FEMA and their long term storage planning.  This program has evaluated at least 100 medications that were expired for at least 2 to 10 years at the time they were evaluated.  This includes many commonly used antibiotics and other medications that could mean the difference between life and death in a collapse situation. I did a Google on that SLEP term, but found my security software warned me away from these military sites, for whatever reason. It also seems that the big pharma companies want this information suppressed. No surprise there, right? If the general public knew their meds would last that long, it might slim down their profits! This information seems valid for pills and capsules, but NOT liquid medications, which seem to deteriorate far faster. Like many other items we have in our preps, we have used our Foodsaver machine to vacuum pack pill form meds we need or feel that would be mighty nice to have on hand during crisis type events. The labels are clearly visible through the vacuumed bags so that during dire times, little effort would be wasted rummaging for the proper stuff. A method I use (I don’t recommend for anyone else) is to cut a pill in half for the second dose of the day, every second or third day of the week and set aside the slowly accumulating extra pills. I carefully experimented (and checked with my doc) to see if this would mess with the effectiveness of the meds. OK, so far. You may also express your concerns to your doctor, who may be willing to write you a prescription for some extra medication for your stash.

Also, one can find ‘alternative’ antibiotics in your favorite pet store:

Amoxicillin 250mg AND 500mg (FISH-MOX, FISH-MOX FORTE)

Ciprofloxacin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-FLOX, FISH-FLOX FORTE)

Cephalexin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-FLEX, FISH-FLEX FORTE)

Metronidazole 250mg (FISH-ZOLE)

Doxycycline 100mg (BIRD-BIOTIC)

Ampicillin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-CILLIN, FISH-CILLIN FORTE)

Clindamycin 300mg (FISH-CIN)

Sulfamethoxazole 400mg/Trimethoprin 80mg (BIRD-SULFA)

Azithromycin 250mg (AQUATIC AZITHROMYCIN)

Be aware that these alternative antibiotics must be in human sized dosages. Do research for that, yourself.

The ONLY ingredient MUST be the antibiotic itself, nothing to make your scales shiny or your hair / feathers glossy.

They must appear identical to human product when removed from the packaging.

They must be available without prescription and in bulk.

Don’t forget that there are many ‘natural’ antibiotic substances, such as garlic, honey and silver. Also, some ‘home remedy’ knowledge would certainly be of great value along with the herbal remedies that would apply.

Oh, back to food for a minute. My daughter informed me she’s tried ‘Fancy Feast Salmon’ cat food on a saltine cracker. Not surprisingly (or maybe surprisingly for some) it tastes like salmon, with heavy salt. This leads to another ‘alternative’ food source, your pet food isle in the grocery. If you examine the ingredients of typical pet foods, you’ll find many items we humans consume already. It’s more of a taste / quality / factory cleanliness standard that separates pet food from human food. If you took a random selection of dog food ‘stew’ and human stew, took the labels off and tossed the cans into a bucket of hot water simmering over a campfire to warm them up, it might be difficult for the ensuing luncheon participants to distinguish one from the other. Truly, without the label, could you tell the difference between Dinty Moore beef stew dinty moore beef_stew






and  Blue Buffalo dog food brand ‘Blue’s Stew’? blue buffalo dog food





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