The Overlooked Mistake You Make When Opening Canned Goods

Canned food is a must-have in many homes. Not only does it last many months or even years, but it's also a convenient way to get high-quality, ready-to-eat vegetables, fruits, meat, or fish into tasty recipes. As simple as canned goods are, though, you're likely making one critical and potentially dangerous mistake when using them: You may not be cleaning the lid before opening.

This is necessary due to the long, often less-than-spotless journey your can takes from the factory that produced it to your grocery store and then to your home. While the food inside is protected, the top can be exposed to all sorts of dirt, dust, grime, and other unsanitary substances that could leave harmful germs and bacteria. When the can is opened, these can get inside the food, potentially leading to illness.

Fortunately, cleaning a can lid is as easy as it gets. Just wipe the top with a clean napkin, towel, or sanitizing wipe. In just a few seconds, you're done. Cans with visible dirt or stains may benefit from an additional washing with gentle soap and water.

When your can needs a deeper clean

This advice goes double for cans that have been exposed to hazardous materials, which may occur during a flood or other natural disaster. For these cans, fully remove their labels, then wash them in soap and rinse. Then, wipe down the can with a sanitizing solution of 1 cup of bleach mixed with 5 gallons of water.

Wiping down the tops of cans is far more important for canned food safety than many other common recommendations, like not storing open cans in the fridge. This is just one of many common canned food myths, which also include the notion that all dented cans need to be thrown away. In reality, only those with large dents big enough to fit your finger need to be tossed.

Remember the simple wiping trick, and you'll ensure all your canned items are as safe as they are convenient, enabling you to try out any number of canned food combinations.