How Long Does Canned SPAM Last?

Canned Spam will be good for an indefinite period of time. It is commonly opened after 5 years and eaten. Hormel claims it is good for 3 years.

Spam shares its name with the unwanted annoying emails you usually receive.

Spam is a canned meat product that hit the shelves in 1937. The original canned pork product, Spam, was manufactured by Hormel Foods Corporation in Austin Minnesota. As the end of the Great Depression came towards its end there was a huge need for meat products that weren’t expensive. This where Spam came in, satisfying this need.

During World War II, Spam cemented its place in the culinary world because of its ability to stay for long periods in storage without going bad. By then about 40 million spam cans had been sold. Hormel Foods sent 15 million cans of the product each week throughout the war to feed the American soldiers together with the allied troops.

World leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Eisenhower highly praised the product’s effectiveness during the time of war. By 1959, Hormel Foods had manufactured its billionth can. Ever since there are 15 different varieties of spam that are being produced in 43 different countries.


Spam is made up of six ingredients which include pork with added ham meat, salt, potato starch, water, sodium nitrite, and sugar. Approximately 90% of Spam is pork from pig’s shoulders, with 10% coming from the pig’s ham.

Salt is included in the ingredient to add flavor and act as a preservative. Water is meant to hold the ingredients together. Sugar is added to enrichen the flavor.

Sodium nitrite helps to retain its freshness. It gives Spam a bright pink color while acting as a preservative at the same time by preventing the growth of bacteria. However, this is the ingredient that might make you raise your eyebrows.

The manufacturing process starts with the pig pieces arriving at the processing plant. The pork is removed from the bone using machines while the ham is trimmed by hand. The meat is ground up and then mixed with the rest of the ingredients for 20 minutes in airtight mixers.

It is then piped onto a conveyor belt and pumped into the cans which get vacuum-sealed. The cans are taken into a cooker which heats them to kill any bacteria. They are then slowly cooled for 3 hours, labeled, and packed for transportation.

Shelf Life of Spam

The ingredients of Spam are additives and preservatives meant to enable it to stay for long without going bad. It’s also heated at very high temperatures after packaging in the cans to extend its shelf life.

Unopened Spam will last in your pantry about 5 years. Once you open the Spam, it will last in your refrigerator for about 10 days before going stale.

Spam cans usually have a best before date which you shouldn’t interpret as the expiration date. This date simply refers to the date before you should eat your Spam to experience its best flavor. Therefore, it does not affect the time your spam will go stale.

You should store your unopened Spam cans in a cool, dry place, your pantry for example. The temperatures in your pantry should not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Any sign of a dent, leak, or rust on the can of your Spam should prompt you to discard it. You should therefore regularly check on your cans of Spam for any sign of these even if they are unopened.

You should seal your Spam can, possibly with a plastic cling wrap, after opening and store it in your refrigerator till the next time you intend to use it. You can, alternatively, transfer it from the can into a container that can be sealed for storage in the fridge.

Is Spam Good for Your Health?

First, were going to you what a 56-gram serving of Spam is constituted of;

  • Calories – 174

  • Protein – 7 grams

  • Carbs – 2 grams

  • Fat – 15 grams

  • Sodium – 33% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)

  • Zinc – 7% of the RDI

  • Potassium – 4% of the RDI

  • Iron – 3% of the RDI

  • Copper – 3% of the RDI

Spam also contains magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, and folate in small amounts.

You should note that Spam is rich in sodium, nitrite, fat, and calories. Sodium nitrite a popular food additive and preservative used with most canned foods. When you’re cooking, you expose it to high temperatures which convert it to nitrosamine, a carcinogenic compound.

It can be eaten out of the can without heating, but will taste better warm.

Spam is also highly packed with sodium, 33 percent of your RDI, which can be a major problem for people with high blood pressure. A high intake of sodium for salt-sensitive people can lead to bloating or swelling.

Spam also contains a hefty dose of cholesterol. Spam contains higher amounts of fats and calories compared to other sources of protein such as meat, legumes, milk, or fish. Frequent intake of Spam can significantly increase your weight.

Although Spam raises many concerns because of its use of sodium nitrite as an additive and preservative, it is not any worse than eating a hot dog or pepperoni. You can prepare Spam in many different delicious ways and make yourself a tasty dish. Do not cook it in the can.

The long shelf life of Spam also makes it the best survival food for survivalists. You can stock it up as a survival food which can come in handy in case of an emergency.