LDS Emergency Preparedness

Be Prepared, Not Scared!

Long Term Food Storage

Posted by Elise on November 18, 2009

Long  term storage means a supply of food that will last a long time, and that you can survive on.   Of  course, they must be properly packaged and stored in a cool dry place.  Some recommended containers are #10 cans, foil pouches, or PETE bottles.  Sometimes plastics buckets can be used.

For more information talk to your Relief Society, Self Reliance/Emergency Preparedness Specialist, Cannery Coordinator, visit, or just ask me.

Longer-Term Storage—30 Years or More



Properly packaged, low-moisture foods stored at room temperature or cooler (75°F/24°C or lower) remain nutritious and edible much longer than previously thought according to findings of recent scientific studies. Estimated shelf life for many products has increased to 30 years or more (see chart for new estimates of shelf life). Previous estimates of longevity were based on “best-if-used-by” recommendations and experience. Though not studied, sugar, salt, baking soda (essential for soaking beans), and vitamin C in tablet form also store well long-term. Some basic foods do need more frequent rotation, such as vegetable oil every 1 to 2 years.

While there is a decline in nutritional quality and taste over time, depending on the original quality of food and how it was processed, packaged, and stored, the studies show that even after being stored long-term, the food will help sustain life in an emergency.

Wheat 30+
White rice 30+
Corn 30+
Sugar 30+
Pinto beans 30
Rolled oats   30
Pasta  30
Potato flakes  30
Apple slices 30
Non-fat powdered milk 20
Dehydrated carrots 20

 Canning with  #10 cans and oxygen absorbers is available at the Home Storage Center. This is the best way to store foods that are dry (about 10% moisture or less), shelf-stable, and low in oil content.

The fill volume of a #10 can is approximately .82 gallon. The weight varies by product. For example, a #10 can holds 5.8 pounds (2.6 kg) of wheat, 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg) of white rice, or 4.1 pounds (2.3 kg) of nonfat, instant dry milk.

Foods do not come in contact with the metal because they are separated from it by the can’s food-grade enamel lining. The low moisture and oil content of the foods limits degradation of the can lining.

Cans should be protected from moisture to prevent rust. They store best in a cool (75°F/ 24°C or lower), dry area where they are not in direct contact with floors or walls. The cans are very durable. Cases of cans may be stacked or placed under beds or in closets.

Some can sealers, particularly those that do not have a motor-powered chuck, are designed for laboratory use and are not durable enough for more than incidental use. The source used by Welfare Services for a durable, portable sealer is Gering and Son in Nampa, Idaho.  (

Canning using aluminum pouches with oxygen absorbers is also available at the Home Storage Center.  Pouches are made of multilayer laminated plastic and aluminum. The material is 7 mils thick (178 microns) and protects food against moisture and insects.    The pouches can be used to store foods that are dry (about 10% moisture or less), shelf-stable, and low in oil.

Emergency supply items should not be sealed in foil pouches. First aid items and food rations, such as granola bars, are best stored in containers with removable lids to allow for frequent rotation.

Each pouch holds 1 gallon (4 liters) of product. The weight varies by product. A pouch holds 7 pounds (3.2 kg) of wheat, 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg) of white rice, or 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of dry milk.

Foods do not come in contact with the aluminum because they are separated from it by a layer of food-grade plastic. The metal barrier is important in protecting the food from moisture and oxygen.

The pouches store best in a cool, dry, rodent-free area. Storage containers should not be in direct contact with concrete floors or walls.  They are not rodent proof. If rodents or other pests are a significant potential problem in the storage area, the pouches should be placed into containers that are rodent or pest proof. Do not store them in containers that have been used to store nonfood items.

Pouches should be sealed using an impulse sealer. The impulse sealers used by Welfare Services (American International Electric AIE 305 A1 and Mercier ME 305 A1) meet the following specifications: 3/16-inch (5 mm) wide seal, 11.5-inch (305 mm) wide jaws, rated for up to 8-mil (205 microns) thick pouches, and equipped with a safety switch to cancel operation if the jaw is obstructed.  You may purchase one from Distribution Services or at



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