Revamp Your Canned Tuna Storage Now!

Canned tuna is one of the easiest, most versatile foods to keep as a pantry staple at home. You can use it to make tuna fish salad to enjoy over a bed of greens or between slices of bread for a quick and simple tuna fish sandwich for lunch. Since it’s been cooked, processed, and sealed in an airtight container (either cans, jars, or packets) it’s super convenient to pack with you for the day or eat on the go.

Plus, tuna has a good amount of nutrition that’ll fill you up fast and provide enough satiety to last a few hours. “Canned tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, which are beneficial for heart health and brain function, and it also contains essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, and potassium,” says registered dietitian Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD

“The shelf life of canned tuna can vary depending on a few factors, including packaging, processing methods, and storage conditions, but generally, canned tuna has a long shelf life and can remain safe to eat for an extended period, which can range from 2 to 5 years, or even more,” Best explains. However, if you’re storing it incorrectly, you won’t be able to maximize its use and rich nutrition profile.

Make sure you’re avoiding these common mistakes when storing canned tuna, so you can make the most of your purchase and enjoy every bite!

The Biggest Mistakes We Make When Storing Tuna

1. Storing in a Warm or Humid Area

For optimal storage and to maximize shelf life, you must keep canned tuna in a cool and dry place, where it’s away from direct sunlight and any potential extremities in temperature fluctuations. “Such proper storage helps to maintain the quality of the product and prevent potential spoilage or bacterial growth,” Best says.

Sunlight and hot or humid temperatures will increase spoilage and speed the process. Placing canned tuna near heat sources, such as stoves and ovens, can also result in a higher temperature inside the cans, which will accelerate the spoilage process. Store in a cabinet or pantry, instead.

2. Disregarding Expiration Dates

To be fair, with proper storage, canned tuna can be safe to consume beyond its “best by” date. So, you should be able to extend it a bit. However, storing canned tuna and leaving it for too long past the best by or expiration date isn’t a good idea. “Its quality, flavor, and nutritional value may gradually decline over time,” Best says. To avoid this, Best suggests using the “first in, first out rule,” and says, “Consume older cans first and replace with new ones to maintain freshness.”

3. Not Tossing Damaged Cans

When buying canned tuna at the store, always inspect the cans first to look for any signs of damage, such as bulging or leaks. And, if you do end up with these kinds of cans at home, you shouldn’t leave them in the cabinet or pantry for later use and enjoyment. “Damaged cans should be discarded, as they may compromise the safety of the product,” Best explains.

4. Freezing Canned Tuna

Freezing canned tuna isn’t wise, since the fish may taste a bit funky afterwards and have an unpleasant texture. “While canned tuna can technically be frozen, it is not recommended, as it can affect the texture and taste of the fish,” Best says. Instead, only eat canned tuna fresh from the can, and keep freezing tuna applicable to just filets and raw fish, instead.

5. Storing Opened Cans in the Fridge

While there are times you may not want to finish a whole can of tuna at once, you should never leave the can open in the fridge, since it can lead to safety hazards. “Leaving opened cans of tuna in the fridge can lead to food safety issues, since the metal from the can may react with the tuna, causing off-flavors, and the exposed contents may then be susceptible to contamination,” Best says. Instead, transfer the remaining tuna to a covered, airtight container before refrigerating. Doing so helps maintain freshness and prevents any potential health risks or concerns.

6. Stacking Heavy Items on Top of Cans

Stacking heavy objects on top of canned tuna can cause dents or punctures in the cans, which can lead to leaks and contamination. “Avoid piling heavy items on your canned goods to prevent damage and store the cans separately or in sturdy containers, where they won’t be subjected to pressure,” Best recommends.