Findings of recent scientific studies conducted by a team of researchers at Brigham Young University show that properly packaged, low-moisture foods stored at room temperature or cooler (75°F/24°C or lower) remain nutritious and edible much longer than previously thought. The studies, which are the first of their kind, increase the estimated shelf life for many products to 30 years or more (see chart for new estimates of shelf life). Previous estimates of longevity were based on "best-if-used-by" recommendations and experience. Though not studied, sugar, salt, baking soda (essential for soaking beans), and vitamin C in tablet form also store well long-term. Some basic foods do need more frequent rotation, such as vegetable oil every 1 to 2 years.
While there is a decline in nutritional quality and taste over time, depending on the original quality of food and how it was processed, packaged, and stored, the studies show that even after being stored long-term, the food will help sustain life in an emergency.
Cannery Food - New "Life Sustaining" Shelf-LifeEstimates (In Years)
White rice 30+
Pinto beans 30
Apple slices 30
Rolled oats 30
Potato flakes 30
Powdered milk 20