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Old 18 March 2011, 05:34 PM
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snopes snopes is offline
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
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Icon86 Dented cans

Comment: I have several friends who believe that buying canned goods at
the grocery store that are dented is dangerous because the product may
contain botulism (caused by the dent somehow). I had never heard this
before. Is it true?
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Old 18 March 2011, 06:16 PM
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BoKu BoKu is offline
Join Date: 20 February 2000
Location: Douglas Flat, CA
Posts: 3,861

We used to buy a lot of canned goods at a seconds store where slightly-damaged merchandise was sold at a discount. Most of the canned goods there were dented. Aside from sometimes being troublesome to open, they were all good.

The thing I have been warned to watch for is cans that are bulged outward by internal pressure. That indicates the buildup of gas produced by bacteria. Even at the dented-can store I only saw a couple of those, and was never tempted to open one to see what was inside. Some mysteries are best left unsolved.

Thanks, Bob K.
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Old 18 March 2011, 06:52 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 25,772

Yes, as a shelf-stacker I saw a few "blown" cans which had become contaminated or weren't fully sterile, and which had swollen with gas from the bacteria that were eating the contents. (Obviously they were still sealed sufficiently that the gas couldn't escape, so the contamination must have been sealed in).

I suppose a dent in a can could introduce a small hole which might contaminate the contents, and if there was a hole in the can then it might not bloat in the same way because any gas build-up could escape through the hole, but I'd have thought it would be fairly obvious if that was happening because you'd be able to see stuff leaking out, and smell it. A straightforward dent doesn't matter.
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Old 18 March 2011, 10:43 PM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
Join Date: 24 November 2005
Location: Bellingham, WA
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A dent not near a seam should not be a problem. Even then the can needs to be check for any discoloration corrosion around around the seams. You are looking for any evidence of a leaky seal.
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Old 18 March 2011, 10:48 PM
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Chloe Chloe is offline
Join Date: 13 September 2004
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 39,316

I once opened a can of catfud that obviously must have gone horribly, dreadfully wrong. The moment the blade cut in, the meat fizzed out under enough pressure to reach the ceiling. And the smell--dear lord, the smell. I'd already cleaned three times by the time anyone else got home, and it was still unbearable. I didn't notice anything wrong with the can, and nor had whomever bought it.
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Old 18 March 2011, 10:55 PM
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Lachrymose Lachrymose is offline
Join Date: 31 March 2007
Location: Baltimore, MD
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My mom used to work for a small shop that actually specialized in selling slightly damaged items like this.

It got a fair amount of business, but is no longer around.
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