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Food Safety Issues/Nitrogen packed pinto beans


We opened a can of nitrogen packed pinto beans we have had for about 30  yrs and the smell was bad and on the inside of the can was a black substance that rubbed off on on fingers.  Are the beans safe to eat?

Hi Dorothy,

Anytime you open any food product, whether they have been nitrogen packed or traditionally canned, and you notice an off smell and residue -- your immediate accessment should be that the food is not longer acceptable to be consumed.

My guess on the black substance in the inside of the can was oil from the beans that slowly leached out during storage.  

The recommendation for nitrogen packed beans is to use them within 8-10 years when stored at a temperature of 70 degrees F.  Since your beans have been stored thirty years and this is 3 times the recommendation for safe usage, the recommendation is to not take a chance and pitch the beans.



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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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