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How to Recognize Safe Food

Barbara Willenberg, Former Associate State Nutrition Specialist

Jo Britt-Rankin, State Nutrition Specialist


Help For the Home Canner

Safe home canning methods will protect you and your family from illness. Here are some suggestions:


  • Use fresh, high quality food.
  • Use jars made for canning and two-piece metal lids.
  • Always use new "flats."
  • Pack foods hot and use correct headspace.
  • Cool jars before storing.
  • Store canned foods in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • Try to can no more food than you will use in a year.
  • Process meat, poultry, fish and vegetables in a pressure canner.
  • Process fruits, pickles, jam and jelly in a boiling-water canner.
  • Never use unsafe methods like oven canning, microwave canning or open-kettle canning.
  • Refer to University of Missouri Outreach & Extension canning guides which can be found at


What to do with spoiled canned food

If you think food is spoiled, handle with care and never taste it. Treat like it contains botulism poison:

If food is spoiled and still in sealed jars or cans, then:


  • Put them in a heavy, plastic garbage bag;
  • Tie bag tightly and put it in a trash can or bury it in a landfill.


If food is spoiled and jars or cans have become unsealed, then:

  • Carefully put them on their side in a large pan;
  • Wash your hands carefully;
  • Add water to the pan slowly until it cover jars or cans-be careful not to splash;
  • Put a lid on the pan and heat until it boils;
  • Boil for at least 30 minutes to kill all the poison;
  • Let pan cool and put jars or cans in a heavy plastic bag;
  • Tie it tightly and put it in a trash can;
  • Wash all counters, pans and equipment that touched the jars or cans;
  • Don't forget to wash your can opener, your hands and clothes;
  • Put sponges or wash clothes in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash.



Last Updated 10/25/2007










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