How long is canned soup good for after expiration date?

Canned soup can usually be safely consumed even after the printed expiration date on the can has passed. However, there are several factors that determine just how long after the expiration date canned soup will retain peak quality and safety.

How Expiration Dates Work

The expiration date printed on canned soup and other packaged foods is the “Best By” date – this date indicates the timeframe during which the product will be at peak quality when stored properly. It does not necessarily indicate when the product becomes unsafe to eat.

Canned goods may still be consumed and safe to eat for weeks, months or even years after the printed Best By date, depending on the food type, as long as the cans remain in good condition and have been stored properly in a cool, dry place. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require expiration dates on canned goods except for infant formula.

Shelf Life of Canned Soup After Expiration Date

An unopened can of soup that has been continuously stored in a cool, dry pantry will typically maintain best quality for 3-5 years after the printed date. The soup can often be safely consumed for up to 1-2 years beyond that time if the can remains in good condition, but quality will gradually degrade over longer periods.

Once opened, all canned soup should be consumed within 4-7 days and refrigerated. Leftover soup should be transferred to an airtight container or re-canned properly to extend its shelf life. An opened can of soup left at room temperature for longer than 4 hours should be discarded.

Signs Canned Soup Has Spoiled

While the printed expiration date is a helpful guide, the true determining factor for usability after that date is the condition of the unopened can and quality of the soup after opening. Here are signs that canned soup has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • The can is seriously dented, swollen or corroded
  • The soup spurts liquid or sprays when the can is opened
  • The contents smell sour, rancid or unpleasant
  • Mold is visible around the rim or inside the can
  • The soup has an abnormal appearance or texture
  • The soup tastes unpleasant or “off”

As long as the can is in good condition and the soup shows no signs of spoilage after opening, canned soup is typically still good to eat for some time past the printed date.

How to Store Canned Soup

To get the longest safe shelf life and quality from canned soup:

  • Store unopened canned soup in a cool, dry place under 75°F.
  • Avoid storage areas that may experience temperature extremes or direct sunlight.
  • Store cans on shelves to prevent dampness from direct contact with a concrete floor.
  • Rotate stock so older cans are used first.
  • Wipe away any dust buildup on cans.
  • After opening, transfer soup to airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Discard any cans that are dented, rusted or leaking.

How to Determine Usability After Expiration Date

When trying to determine if an expired can of soup is still usable, examine the can carefully and evaluate the soup’s quality upon opening. Look for these signs of usability past the date on the label:

  • The can and lid are free of rust and major dents or bulges.
  • The can hisses with a vacuum seal when opened.
  • The contents look and smell normal with no off odors.
  • The soup is not discolored, mushy or moldering.
  • The soup’s flavor and texture seem right with heating.

Never consume soup from cans that are leaking or badly damaged. When in doubt, throw it out. Botulism and food poisoning are serious risks with canned goods that were improperly handled.

Canned Soup Nutrition & Safety

Canned soup provides shelf-stable nutrition, calories and hydration when stored as directed. However, the canning process may affect the nutritional profile compared to fresh soups:

  • Salt is added as a preservative.
  • Heat processing may lower vitamin content.
  • Some minerals like potassium and magnesium may be decreased.
  • Texture and color may change compared to fresh.

Follow proper storage, preparation and heating when consuming canned soup past the printed date to destroy any bacteria or pathogens that could cause food poisoning. Do not eat soup straight from the can after the expiration date.

Reheating leftover canned soup to 165°F and maintaining proper fridge temperatures helps prevent potential spoilage issues. Discard any expired canned soup that tastes or smells strange or shows signs of contamination.

Freezing Canned Soup

Commercially canned soup can be frozen to extend the shelf life months beyond the printed date. To freeze:

  • Check the can for damage or rust before opening.
  • Transfer opened soup to freezer bags or containers.
  • Exclude as much air as possible.
  • Freeze for up to 2-3 months at 0°F.
  • Thaw in refrigerator before reheating.

Properly frozen canned soup maintains quality and safety indefinitely at 0°F but quality slowly declines after months in the freezer. Frozen soup may lose some texture, nutrition and flavor over time.

Re-canning Soup at Home

Once opened, leftover canned soup can be re-canned in mason jars for extended shelf life. Follow proper home canning procedures:

  • Use undamaged canning jars sterilized in boiling water.
  • Only re-can high acid soups like tomato, cream of mushroom.
  • Add lemon juice or vinegar to low acid soups.
  • Adjust headspace, clean rims.
  • Use new lids and process jars in a water bath canner.

Re-canned soup should be processed properly for the specific soup pH and ingredients. After processing, store jars in a cool, dark place and use within 1 year for best quality.

Consume Within Recommended Time Limits

For peak flavor and safety, the FDA offers these guidelines for consuming canned soup past the printed date if properly stored:

Food Type Recommended Maximum Storage
Meat, poultry soups 2-5 years
Fish soups 3-4 years
Veggie, vegetable bean soups 3-5 years

These timeframes help estimate when quality degradation affects taste, texture and safety. Discard any soup giving off unpleasant odors, showing rust, or appearing abnormal.

Trust Your Senses When Evaluating Usability

Your eyes, nose and taste buds are the best tools for determining whether canned soup is still good after the printed expiration date. Check for these signs of spoiled canned soup:

  • Appearance: Abnormal color changes, excessive discoloration, odd textures or mushiness indicate spoilage.
  • Smell: Off, sour, rancid odors point to bacterial growth or other contamination.
  • Taste: Unpleasant flavors like bitterness, metallic tastes or very acidic notes are red flags for spoilage.

Soup that smells and tastes as expected is likely still safe to eat, for a period beyond the Best By date. However, canned goods deteriorate slowly over many months or years.

Discard Damaged Cans

Never consume soup from cans that show signs of damage like:

  • Rusted lids or side seams
  • Dents along lid edges or seams
  • Bulging or swollen sides
  • Cracks, holes or deep dents
  • Leaking liquid or spurting upon opening

Even if the soup inside looks normal, damaged cans increase the risk of bacterial growth and toxic metal contamination. Heavily damaged cans should be tossed out according to local recycling guidelines.


Canned soups can typically last for years after their printed Best By date if stored properly in a cool pantry. Look for visible can defects, odor changes and other signs of spoilage to determine usability.

While not a perfect guarantee of safety, you can generally go by these guidelines for soups free of visible damage, strange smells or tastes:

  • Up to 2-5 years past the date for robust handling and quality
  • Up to 3 years for best flavor and texture
  • Up to 1 year past the date if refrigerated after opening

Always inspect cans carefully and rely on your senses. When in doubt, remember the old adage – “When in doubt, throw it out”. Properly stored canned soup provides delicious nutrition for years after the printed date but should still be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

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