dented or otherwise damaged cans, what do you do?

This article in yesterday's paper caught my eye.

Looks like mould to me.
Forget the sensational headline for a minute and focus on the can.
Notice how it's a little blackened around the bottom rim?
I'm not sure it shows, but it looks like the can has been standing in wet conditions, the wrapper looks a little wrinkled too at top and bottom.
Was it like this when it was bought?  If yes, why buy it? 
If no, then how was it stored in the home environment?

 Use by date.
Usually irrelevant, unless the can has been opened. We all know that once a can is opened the contents need to be used immediately, especially baby foods.

She mentions somewhere in the story that the contents appeared "a bit runny".
This happens when  food is given to the baby directly from the can, (or jar) with saliva from the baby's mouth being transferred to the contents, which then begins to break down the molecular structure of the canned food.
This isn't immediately apparent, but by the next day, the food will be runnier and not suitable for consumption. 
It will be contaminated.
If you know your baby will not eat the full contents, it's far better to spoon a smaller amount into a bowl
and then store the covered remainder in the fridge.
To be used within 24 hours. Or less.

 The woman at the centre of the story is the child's grandmother.
 I'm wondering if the can was already opened when it was brought to her along with the child and for how long?
I could be wrong. I frequently am wrong. The can could have been unopened and in good condition....
and of course the grandmother is right to bring faulty goods and contaminated foods to the attention of the media and the public.
Anyway... moving on....

 Here is the real point of my story.
The can was probably damaged after it left the factory. 
Yes. Damaged during delivery from the factory to the warehouse, or damaged while being stored, or damaged during selection and delivery to the stores.
My customers and I have noticed a huge increase in the number of dented cans on supermarket shelves.
No one knows how or when this happens, but it is happening too often and to too many cans.

Not only baby foods either.
Check out the canned soups. The canned vegetables.
Some cans are so dented they're practically folded in half. And they're still put on the shelves.
 I kid you not.

 It's not only "my" supermarket either. I've seen it everywhere.

Like the above paragraph says, consumers should not buy these damaged cans. But sometimes the entire delivery is dented to some extent. What is the customer suposed to buy?
 Also some customers don't realise the dangers in a damaged can.

I'm treading in dangerous water here. There are specific rules and limits about what "we" are allowed to write or picture on the internet. We've each been given a Code of Conduct booklet.
But I'm not singling out any specific supermarket chains, I'm not naming any names, I should be okay.

Here's the thing.
If so many cans are arriving at the stores damaged, why are they not sent back to the warehouse as unsaleable? Why are they allowed on the shelves?

 I realise that by returning shipment after shipment, stocks on shelves will run low and stores will lose sales and money.

 But isn't it better to return them to the distribution centres and put up a notice apologising to the customers and letting them know that the store is concerned with their health and food safety?

I'm also sure that if all those damaged cans, from all supermarkets, were returned to the respective distribution centres, those responsible for these centres and the deliveries, would start taking more care
with their own storage and deliveries systems. Because they'd be losing money too.

Am I right?


  1. Every time i buy a canned product i inspect it carefully for rust and dents. When i do find a can with dents or rust i leave it on the shelf, better to be safe than sorry :-).

  2. You are right about that can - it didn't look as if it had been stored properly. I don't know whether the damage happened before it got to the store, in the store, or at home, but I wouldn't have been opening that can for consumption. And it is nice to know that I am not alone in being picky about this issue.

  3. I won't take a dodgy can, I check them very thoroughly before they go into the trolley.

  4. despite seeing endless bacteria cultures on TV (in the news and in dramas) many people have no understanding of how germs would grow in food stored after a spoon from a mouth had been in it.

    people are pretty dumb about food contamination altogether really.
    and sneezing too. near food. erk.

  5. Windsmoke; I inspect cans too before buying. If it's just a very shallow dent and the can is otherwise undamaged I'd probably buy it, but rusty cans would never make it into my trolley.
    Better to take those to the service desk and have it removed from sale.

    EC; I don't want to be saying the grandmother's story is untrue, but the can does look like it has been opened and stored more than a day. Look at the can discolouration just at the inside open rim.

    Toni; some small and shallow dents are acceptable. A can which has "blown" should never be purchased, likewise a rusted can.

    Ann O'Dyne; We were taught this sort of thing in school, in Home Economics, and a lot of us learned it from our mums too. But younger generations don't seem to know as much about food storage. Many immigrants from less developed countries may not know the dangers either. and I think this may be the case here.

  6. Years ago I helped out at the local food bank a bit. There was nothing BUT dented cans there. It made me want to weep to see people being so grateful for dented cans and semi mouldy bread.
    I always bring my watch dog shopping with me (read husband). He examines every can I pick up and the odd time he has pointed out a dent I missed and exchanged the can.

  7. You are right. The odd dented can on the shelves is ok, but many? But the puzzling things is when they are tightly packaged together, how do they all get dented?

  8. I have seriously become OCD with grocery shopping. I live at poverty level and yet I buy organic when possible (not much available here but I try). I always look for dates and dents and would never buy out-of-date or any can with a dent. I even have gotten to where I will not buy the first item at the front of a row, but have to go back 2 or 3 items. The thinking there is people put things in there baskets and then they are later, who knows how long, are returned to the shelf by a worker.
    I also have to go to the food bank the last week of the month, and give the out-of-date and dented cans to neighbors. They think I'm weird. Probably so.

  9. Yeh I agree, I've always only picked up cans that are pristine and undented. Someone a long time ago told me not to buy damaged cans. Although my Coles never puts them on the shelf.

  10. So glad that I only use limited canned produce now, and I always avoid any that appear damaged, but yes, I have noticed that someitmes it is hard to find something that is not damaged in some way. I don't know why that idea has always been in my head, but it has.

  11. It did look like a slug to me, but with the evidence outlined in your post, I'd wonder about mould as well. :P blech!

  12. mybabyjohn; it's sad to think that the food banks only get second or third rate leftovers to give out to the homeless. The ones I know about here get bread that's one or two days old, but I haven't heard of them getting mouldy bread.

    Andrew; I can only think the loads get dropped at some stage. Possibly a whole crate dropped off a forklift? Or stock pushed by forklft onto a high shelf that is already full so the back section gets squashed?

    Linda; I'm not much above poverty level myself. I don't buy organic much, especially not canned or processed, but I grow a few veg. myself so I know they're fresh. I buy an occasional dented can, usually the dent is so small I don't notice it until I'm home, but I would never buy an out-of-date can. I don't buy much canned food anyway, mostly baked beans and tomato soup.

    Baino; rusted or otherwise discoloured, and blown cans are the ones to watch out for, mostly. and out of date stuff.

    amandab; my canned purchases are limited too, I prefer fresh or frozen for vegetables. I make all my own soups too, except for tomato.

    Happy Elf; I can't see a slug there. I see black mould with white fungus spores along one edge, which indicates to me the can has been left open for quite some time, possibly shoved to the back of a fridge?

  13. I have noticed this, too. In the "old days" dented cans were put in a separate area and sold at a discount to people who were willing to take the risk of eating them in order to save money.

    Now, when you go to buy a can of something, almost all the cans on the shelf are dented, and you have to go through all of them, inspecting each can until you find one that is indented.


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