Does Spam Go Bad? The Secret About Its Shelf Life and Expiration

Love it or hate it, Spam is a staple for a lot of families, thanks to its affordable price and versatility. The idea of canned meat might not sound that appealing, but when you consider that it can fit into a variety of recipes and quick meals, it’s easy to see why it still sells.

According to Hormel, Spam should be eaten by the “best by” date on the bottom of the can. However, Spam can be eaten for a long time after that as long as the can isn’t dented, punctured or bulging. If you ever have any doubts, throw it away and get a new can.

Given its accessibility, you might be wondering just ? If you’ve stocked up your pantry with this product, are you going to be able to eat it later on down the road? Let’s look at just how long Spam lasts.

What Is Spam Anyway?

Before we determine how long Spam lasts, we need to look at the ingredients that it contains. This will shed some light on its shelf life, not to mention its nutritional value.

The primary ingredients in Spam are pork with ham meat added in. It also contains modified potato starch to bind everything together and sodium nitrite as a preservative. In addition, Spam contains salt, water, and sugar.

The sodium nitrite preserves the flavor and color of the meat so that it continues to look appealing after sitting in a tin for a period of time. It prevents the meat from going rancid by inhibiting the oxidation of the lipids, or fats, in the meat. This process also keeps bacteria from forming inside the meat.

Modified potato starch not only binds the ingredients together for a consistent taste and texture, but it also protects the meat from extreme changes in temperatures or acidity levels, and it keeps viscosity and gelatinization consistent.

Now that we know more about what actually goes into this “mystery meat,” we can better determine just how long it will last.

So, How Long Does Spam Last?

The additives and preservatives in the food enable it to last for a good length of time. In addition, the Spam is prepared and packaged at very high temperatures, which also extends its shelf life. All in all, an unopened can of Spam can last in the pantry for between two and five years.

Once the tin is opened, it will last in the refrigerator for seven to ten days. You may notice that your can of Spam has a best before date.

These dates shouldn’t be read as expiration dates because they’re not. Besides, a lot of foods are still edible after their expiration date. In the case of canned meat, a best before date simply refers to when a consumer should eat it for the best possible flavor.

This date is usually set by the manufacturer and is their suggestion for the length of time the product has before it loses its prime flavor, texture, and quality. Just because the Spam is past its best before date, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be rotten or inedible.

If you go to the Hormel website (Hormel is the food manufacturing company), it states that opened cans of Spam should be kept in the refrigerator and eaten within three to five days. Of course, they leave themselves a bit of a buffer to avoid customer complaints.


Is there a particular way that you should store your Spam to ensure that it stays as fresh as possible? Store unopened cans in a dark, dry cupboard where the temperature doesn’t go over 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If any of your Spam cans are dented, leaking, or rusted, throw them away.

Once you open your can of Spam, you can cover it with plastic cling wrap and place it in the fridge. Alternatively, you can transfer the remaining Spam into a plastic Tupperware container, and keep it refrigerated until the next time you eat it.

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