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Shelf Life of Spam: How Long Does SPAM Really Last?

Spam is a divisive meat product—either you love it or hate it. But, regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, Spam is an iconic canned meat product. For many, the image of a Spam can is seared into their memory banks. 

Spam enthusiasts and preppers love it for its classic flavor and incredibly long shelf life.

Understanding this, we researched the question, “How long does Spam last?” We discovered that Spam’s shelf-life is indefinite…so long as it’s stored with the proper conditions. 

Read on for more details about the shelf-life of Spam and for the answer to the question, “Does Spam expire?”

How Long Does Spam Last?

When stored with the proper conditions, Spam will last an indefinite amount of time. That’s why cans of Spam don’t have an expiration date. Instead, they have a “best-by” date. 

Best-by dates signify the time that the can is at its peak freshness. During this time, the Spam will look and taste its best. In most cases, the best-by dates for cans of Spam are approximately three years after the manufacturing date.  

After the best-by date, Spam is still safe to eat; however, it may change in appearance, taste, or nutritional value. 

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How to Properly Store Spam

Spam has an indefinite shelf-life because of sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is an antioxidant used to cure meat. Sodium nitrite prevents oxidation of the fats and lipids in Spam from occurring. It also prevents the growth of botulism-causing bacteria and prevents spoilage.  

To extend the shelf-life of Spam indefinitely, you need to store it under optimal conditions.

  • Caches of Spam must be kept in cool and dark locations. Too much heat can make the fats in Spam go rancid. 

  • Spam should be kept in dry locations. Moisture can cause the cans to start rusting, which is unsafe to eat. Handling rusty cans is also unsafe.

  • Spam should never be frozen. Freezing canned Spam can break the can’s seal and create leakage. If you want to freeze Spam, remove it from its original packaging. 

  • Keep your canned Spam off the floor. This will mitigate pest infestation. Plus, concrete floors are damp and create humidity, which can lead to rusting.

  • Refrigeration may be necessary. After opening a can of Spam, refrigerate the leftovers and consume them within a few days for optimal flavor.    

If not stored under the proper conditions, even Spam can spoil and go bad. So let’s take a minute to discuss some of the red flags associated with spoiled Spam (and other canned food items). 

Red Flags for Spoiled Spam

spoiled spam over the spam shelf life

If you are unable to store your Spam within the optimal conditions, it can spoil. If you notice any of the following red flags, do not eat the food—and refrain from feeding it to your pets as well. 

We don’t enjoy throwing away food, either. It’s a waste. However, unfortunately, it’s best to throw spoiled Spam away. 

  • A broken seal can let in bacteria, insects, or rodents.

  • A bulging can is the result of gaseous bacteria growing inside.

  • Rust on the can is unsafe to consume and handle. 

  • Leakage occurs from a broken seal.

  • Deep dents in the can leach harmful chemicals into the food.

  • Bubbly or cloudy contents can signify the presence of mold. 

  • Contents bursting from the can when you open it is another sign of spoilage.

The Drawbacks of Eating Spam

Spam is sold around the world. It has become a household ingredient known for versatility, convenient ease of preparation, and of course, its long shelf life. However, Spam is not all good; there are some drawbacks that come with overeating Spam.

Spam is Highly Processed

Spam is a type of processed meat. Processed meat is any type of meat that has been cured, canned, smoked, or dried to increase its shelf life and enhance its flavor and texture. 

Eating processed meats has been associated with a host of adverse health conditions, such as the risk of diabetes and heart disease.  

Spam Contains Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrite is a common food additive that prevents the growth of bacteria. It also can improve the flavor and appearance of the final product. 

However, when exposed to high heat, sodium nitrate can convert into nitrosamine, a dangerous compound associated with adverse health effects. 

Excess intake of nitrites or nitrosamine has been linked to stomach and thyroid cancer, as well as an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.  

Spam Contains A Lot of Sodium 

Spam is exceptionally high in sodium. Just one serving of Spam contains nearly ⅓ of the recommended daily amount of sodium. 

Recent nutritional research has shown that there are health complications that come with a diet with too much sodium. In particular, excess amounts of sodium have been linked to high blood pressure and a higher risk of stomach cancer.   

An Alternative to Spam: Valley Food Storage’s Freeze-Dried Meat

Like with most things in life, moderation is essential—that’s why you cannot solely rely on Spam.

In terms of eating meat, the best way to not heavily rely on Spam and other canned meats for food in an emergency scenario is to invest in freeze-dried or dehydrated meat.

Why? Because there are many benefits of freeze-dried meat and other freeze-dried or dehydrated emergency food.

[product_render product-handle="freeze-dried-meat-6-pack"]

Wholesome Ingredients Only

With our food, what you read on the label is what you get. We use only the highest quality non-GMO foods to ensure that our products not only taste great, but also provide you with valuable nutritional content. 

Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Foods Come With a 25+ Year Shelf-Life 

Yes, you read that correctly. Thanks to our professional processing and packaging systems, we can create food that will stay fresh for decades, so you can buy it now and save it for whenever a disaster strikes or a food shortage occurs.    

Convenient to Carry and Prepare 

Freeze-drying and dehydrating remove upwards of 95% of moisture from food. With less moisture in the food, the item becomes much lighter. 

Lightweight food is packable and easier to transport. This is ideal for reorganizing your prepper pantry, moving supplies to your bug-out location, or packing rations into your bug-out bags.  

Our food is easy to prepare, even if you’re cooking without electricity. All you have to do is add water and your favorite spices.  

Final Thoughts On The Shelf Life of Spam

Spam is a convenient, versatile, and long-lasting product. These qualities make it an ideal choice for including in your cache of emergency food and prepper supplies. That being said, you cannot rely solely on Spam and other canned meat items.


Eating too much Spam and other canned meats can lead to adverse health effects—that’s why you need a more diverse selection of emergency food. Freeze-dried and dehydrated meat is the ideal alternative to Spam. It lasts longer and is much healthier. 


Visit our website today to pick up some freeze-dried meat and other proteins.