The process of storing food in hermetically sealed cans and containers dates back to 1809. The method was invented by Nicolas Appert. He was responding to a call by Napoleon, who wanted his army to have preserved food. Ever since then, the art of preserving food in cans has improved and continues to this day.
There are benefits of preserving food in cans, and at the same time, there are concerns that have been raised. Here is a detailed look at both the pros and cons of processed canned food.
Benefits of Canned Food
Canned food offers many benefits. Some of them are:
They Are Affordable
Canned food is readily available and affordable to many people. That is why you find students buying mountains of canned food and storing them in their places of residence. The reason why canned food is inexpensive is that it is easy to mass-produce them in large quantities: that and their ability to stay for long without going bad.
They Offer Convenience
Most canned food is ready to eat type. All you need to do is simply warm it up, and you are good to go. For most people that spend too much time working and barely have the time to cook, canned food is all they have going on for them. They are easy to make; even a 10-year-old can easily handle the preparation.
They Have a Long Shelf-Life
A properly sealed can of food has a very long shelf life. On average, unopened cans can last for between 2-5 years, which is an impressive length of time. Fresh produce starts going bad from the moment they are out from the farm. Even refrigeration does not keep them fresh for long. Food cans made by Levapack can sealing machines are the most reliable: they are sturdy with no leaks or spaces to allow contaminants to ensure that they keep food safe the longest.
They Have High Nutrition
Another big benefit of canned food is that all the nutrients present are also sealed, keeping them intact. Compared with fresh produce that is stored for days outside, canned vegetables and fruits pack more nutrients. Canning processes usually happen within hours of harvesting. What this means is that the food is canned when it is still at its peak of freshness.
They Are Easy to Store
Unlike fresh produce that you need to either consume immediately or store in a fridge for later consumption, canned food does not require any of that. When food is sealed in an airtight container, there is no oxygen to support the organisms responsible for making food go bad. This allows the tins to be stored at room temperature with no risk of spoiling.
The Drawbacks of Canned Food
Like most things, canned food also has drawbacks. Let’s take a look at them below:
They Taste Different
Compared to fresh food that you eat within days after harvesting, canned food has a different taste. Staying on the shelf for years in an airtight container is bound to alter the taste of whatever is inside. This is one of the main reasons why some people do not like canned food. They only turn to it in extreme cases.
Too Many Chemicals Involved
To keep the food from going bad, a lot of chemicals are used in the food before sealing. One particular chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) has been found in large amounts in most canned foods. The chemical is found in aluminum cans and tins and is responsible for congenital disabilities, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, breast cancer, and infertility. There have been efforts to ban its use, but so far that has not happened.
The Risk of Botulism
Errors do happen sometimes when sealing food cans. Improperly canned food leads to a severe disease called botulism, a paralytic disease caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Most cases of botulism come from home-canned foods. Commercial ones usually undergo a botulinum cook process to eliminate that risk.
If you notice your can of food is bulging, rusting, or has a bad dent, throw it away immediately. That is a sure sign of something terrible happening inside.
High Sodium and Sugar Content
Salts and sugars are added to canned food to increase the flavor and improve the general texture. High sodium content carries the risk of elevating blood pressure and increases calcium loss in the body. Heavy sugar syrup is added to canned fruits to make them palatable. However, this increases the calorie load of the food, increasing the chances of diabetes.
Always rinse canned food to reduce the sodium and use fruits that have been canned in water or their own juice to reduce the sugar content.
Lack of Variety
Not so many food types can be put in a can. Vegetables and fruits make the bulk of canned food. Still, there are some vegetables and fruits that simply do not do so well in canned form. They do not taste good at all when canned compared to when they are fresh. This is why you will rarely find canned broccoli, bananas, apples, or potatoes.
The lack of variety makes them a favorite of only a select number of people.
Exposure to Tin
The expiry date written on canned food containers has a lot more to do with the container itself than the food inside. The time limit is usually set to cover the time it will take for the tin to start transferring to the food. Tin contamination leads to gastrointestinal problems like inflammation and irritation. Once you open a can, you need to consume the food inside as fast as possible. Exposure to oxygen triggers rusting, and this can seep into the food, making it unhealthy.
Like all possessed food, canned food also comes with its own benefits and risks. It is hard to imagine a world without canned food because it really helps people during hard times. The bottom line is, if you have access to fresh food, then use that by all means necessary. If you can limit your consumption of canned food, the better.