Are dented cans a safe bargain?

Ever wonder whether buying dented cans is a good bargain? Are they safe…?

I recently came across an email that highlighted this and I thought it was worth mentioning it to you.

Is it safe to buy dented cans?

Is it safe to buy dented cans?

This blog is all about bringing you the most relevant food safety tips and research to help you be more informed and aware of potential food safety risks.

I am sure you’ve wondered whether dented cans are safe… You’re at the supermarket and come across a few dented cans discounted to clear.

Here’s what the scientific research shows: You should AVOID ALL DENTED CANS.

That’s it. Pretty simple.

Health food fanatics will tell you to avoid ALL canned foods, but if you do eat canned food, make sure the can is scratch-free, dent-free and most important – make sure there are no leaks of any sort.

The reason not to buy a dented can is that all cans have a lacquered inside surface. That surface can be damaged when it’s dented. The lacquer may crack and contaminate the food.

But, it’s not only the inside lacquer that can cause a health and food safety risk. If the lacquer peels off or cracks, the food may come into contact with untreated metal, causing tainting.

Either way, you want to avoid the risk. It’s not worth the 20 or 50 cent discount.

When a can is severely dented, as shown in the photo above, the all-important seal can be damaged allowing air and bacteria inside the can.

The biggest challenge when considering buying a dented can is that you don’t know how long that can has been sitting there on the shelf.

Trust me, it’s not worth the risk.

1 Response to “Are dented cans a safe bargain?”


  1. 1 Ray Keefe

    Hi Gavin,

    great information. It often isn’t obvious that something like this can be a problem. So good to know.

    In our business of Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development there can be similar types of problems where you can’t see the issue but it can be fatal. A few of examples come to mind.

    Thermal management
    If you test things at room temperature then they might get hot but not too hot, especially if you only test for a few minutes. But in the real world the product can be turned on in a hot room for many hours and the final temperature can be too hot and the product fails. And for semiconductors, the product life statistically halves for every 10 degrees rise in temeprature so it might past an initial test but if you don’t calculate the MTBF, Mean Time Before Failure, you can still end up with a warranty liability.

    EMC
    Also known as Electromagnetic Compatibility. There are 2 separate potential disasters here. You product might misoperate in the presence of a radio device like a mobile phone, and you product might be too radio noisy and either fail EMC tests leading to a recall, and/or cause problems for other equipment. Avoiding these problems requires experience in electronics design and you want to make sure you are only working with electronics designers who understand these problems.

    Load Testing
    This can apply to both software and hardware, but is less often done with software and so more often a problem. One big issue with multitasking is that the tasks are run sequentially in loops and either share control cooperatively or in a time sliced environment. So if a lot of things have to happen at the same time, then the microcontroller might not be able to keep up. Sometimes this is not an issue. Things slow down then come back to normal and proceed on OK. But sometimes it can lead to a full system crash. This can be caused by running out of memory, or specifically running out of a memory type known as stack, or not servicing an interrupt fast enough and missing a crucial event or piece of data.

    I imaging in the world of cullinary excellence there are also many things to be careful of in order to delivery great food every time and never have a disaster.

    Thanks again for the food poisoning information. I’ll never look at a dented can of food the same way again.

    Ray Keefe
    Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd
    Casey Business of the Year 2010
    Industrial Electronics Future Award 2011
    Award Winning Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development

Leave a Reply