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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sun Meadows makes a self heating can that comes in a variety of flavors.

• Beef Stew
• Chicken Noodles
• Chili Mac
• Sliced Franks and Beans
• Red Beans and Rice (vegetarian)

My experience is only with the beef stew, now let us begin.

After hurricane Rita went through East Texas 2 years ago, the national guard was handing out family meal kits. This kit was supposed to be enough food for a family of 4 for a full day.

I just happened to have one of the boxes that these family meal kits came in.
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Some pictures of the outside of the can.
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These cans have been stored at room temperature for over two years. They still have 2 more years before they expire. Hopefully everyone can see the date on the can. If you can not read it - the date is EST 7909A. So I am guessing July, 9th of 2009.
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Now for the bad new. About 6 months ago I was going to get the stew out of one of these cans, heat it up in the microwave and eat it for dinner. When I popped the top, there was an immediate stench of spoiled food. The stuff inside the can looked like it was an off color as well. Wondering what had happened, the contents of the can were dumped out, only to find the inside of the can had ruptured. The self heating powder had mixed with the food. Fast forward 6 months. The same thing happened AGAIN!!! Well, in fact, out of three cans that had been opened, all three had ruptured and the food had spoiled.
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Out of three cans, all of them had ruptured at the bottom. Just like the one in the picture.

I do not recommend this product at all. Buying it might just be throwing your money away.
 

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Wherever I may Roam
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Hey Kev...Have you contacted the MFG? Maybe they can get replacements to you. I opened a can of Starkist tuna and found a 2 inch bone in the can, I complained to Starkist via Email and they sent me coupons for free tuna...enough to last 6 months!. Just a thought.
 

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Kev, Just a thought here but I think EST 7909A is the USDA establishiment number for the plant that made the products, not the expiration date, I could be wrong though because I can't read the info on the can from the picture.
 

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We The People
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Kev, Just a thought here but I think EST 7909A is the USDA establishiment number for the plant that made the products, not the expiration date, I could be wrong though because I can't read the info on the can from the picture.
I looked at the bottom of the can and none of markings really made sense for EST. If we don't know the shelf-life, then we can't give judgment if this food spoiled due to bad production or if it was expired. I would call the company and ask them Kev, that way we can be certain that it wasn't on the company’s end and the cause was time.
 

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Aquaholic
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I think it's saying it was manufactured on 5/26/03 @ 1447 and the EST is a manufactures code for which production line.
 

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Here are some links and information on Can Lid freshness/useby Code information and Dates.

Here are some Online sources to aid in determinding when commercially produced canned foods were produced, the sell by dates, best used by dates, etc. Below these online sources I will list some sites which offer food storage specific information.

Please look at and read this Online information source first as it reveals the limitations on can food labeling, date information, FDA regulations, types of date information, and general facts about the shelf life of commercial canned foods [ http://www.amarogue.com/foodexpiration.html ]

Plesase note the following four very important quotes:

a) "Canned food has a shelf life of at least two years from the date of processing. Canned food retains its safety and nutritional value well beyond two years, but it may have some variation in quality, such as a change of color and texture."

b) "Each canned food manufacturer has a unique coding system. Some manufacturers list day, month and year of production, while other companies reference only the year. These codes are usually imprinted on the top or bottom of the can. Other numbers may appear and reference the specific plant manufacturing or product information and are not useful to consumers. Below is a sampling of how some manufacturers code their products so consumers know when the product was packaged. If you have specific questions about a company's product, contact a customer service representative at the phone number listed"

c) "There are several types of dates
"Sell-by" date - tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
"Best if Used By (or Before)" - recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
"Use-By" - the last date recommended for the use of product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
"Closed or Coded Dates" - packing numbers for use by the manufacturer in tracking their products. This enables manufacturers to rotate their stock as well as locate their products in the event of a recall."

d) "Expired Dates
"As long as a product is wholesome, a retailer may legally sell fresh or processed meat and poultry products beyond the expiration date on the package"


I will begin with those sources which offer information on a variety of brand names then proceed to the brand specific sources.

1) From Walton Foods: http://waltonfeed.com/self/lid.html

2) This source offers information on a list of name brands.

http://www.amarogue.com/foodcode.html

3) Here are the contact phone numbers for many of the Con Agra food brands as well as other information on food dates of their brands.

http://www.conagrafoods.com/utilities/includes/faq.jsp

4) http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf

5) http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf



Here are some sites which offer food storage and storage life information.

1) http://waltonfeed.com/grain/faqs/index.html


2) http://waltonfeed.com/grain/life.html

3) http://www.survival-center.com/foodfaq/index.htm

4)http://www.homefoodsafety.org/index.jsp

5) http://millennium-ark.net/News_Files/Hollys.html : This site needs to be read in detail by examining the subtopics such as those listed under the heading of "Shelf Lives of Food". Read this site in its entirety, you will gain an encyclopedia of information on the subjects of food storage and shelf life.

6) http://www.a1usa.net/gary/expire.html

Here is a website with Closing Date Codes used by various manufacturers.

http://www.monkey-wrenching.com/public_html/pkgcode.htm


This offering is NOT Comprehensive. One should contact a food brand directly for any questions and more detailed information.

Try this link as well.

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/CONSUMER/CON00043.html
 

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We The People
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I think it's saying it was manufactured on 5/26/03 @ 1447 and the EST is a manufactures code for which production line.
That doesn't sound right, there’s no "0" before the 3! Whatever, it doesn't look like the date was posted correctly, none the least, I still think Kev should call for curiosities sake.
 

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Aquaholic
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it doesn't need a 0, they know it wasn't manufactured in 1993 by the product number of 150. The EST is part of the time stamp 1447EST as opposed to 1447PST, etc. the 7909 is a line number i think. it's a way for the manufacturer to internally identify the production process for QA reasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
An email was sent to Sun Meadows about the expiration date. Nothing was mentioned about the contents of the can spoiling. When I get the companies reply, it will post it here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
sun meadows heater meals

Got a reply back from Sun Meadows:


Kevin,

Regarding your website inquiry on the Hot Meals the 5 digit number – 05263 – means the product was manufactured on the 263rd day in 2005 . That was September 20 2005.

We recommend using the product within 14 months for best results. The actual product has a much longer shelf life than that and is safe to consume for at least 3 years from the stated date of manufacture. However, the self heating can has a limited shelf life and determines the recommended use date.

Ideally this product would have been consumed by November 20, 2006 for best results. If stored in ideal conditions the self heating elements may still fire but it is beyond the recommended shelf life. The product itself should be fine as long as the can is sealed.

I hope this information is helpful and that you will not hesitate to contact me with additional questions.

Thanks,
Name removed


Name removed

Chief Operations Officer
This product was made on September 20 2005. I got this can just a couple of days or weeks later, in either late September or early October 2005. The can has been stored at room temperatures for 2 years. Keep in mind, the first can I opened, about a year and a half after I got it, was spoiled.
 

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I was wondering as I read the letter...how did you receive the product PRIOR to it's manufacture? I am now confused...even more than I was originally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Its fixed now, We got the meals as part of a hurricane relief effort. Hurricane Rita made landfall on September 24. We were without power for @18 days. So I got this can sometime between Sept. 25th and October 12th - 2005.
 

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"Too many moving parts." as we used to say in the military. In my mind every 'extra' moving part decreases the utility of an item by 300%.
Ergo canned food that you could eat cold with a can-opener and spoon is 100% efficient. Add an uneeded moving part like a heating element,, Poof not even good for compost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
sun meadows self heating meals

While going through the pantry today I found 2 more cans of those self heating meals.

Notice how bulged the bottom of the cans are. For comparison, I got the can of corned beef hash the same time as the sun meadows self heating meals. The corned beef hash expires in another whole year. While the sun meadows self heating meals have already started swelling.

So that is 4 or 5 cans of these self heating meals that have expired and started swelling. The first can I found like this was about 6 months ago. I figure most of these cans went bad about the same time and I am just now finding this out.
 

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Survivorman
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If you ask me the company should of done somthing about it. Even if there cans expired the heating stuff should not be leeking in. If it is hot and the can starts to leek in a survival situation eather you go without food or get sick eating food.
 

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"Too many moving parts." as we used to say in the military. In my mind every 'extra' moving part decreases the utility of an item by 300%.
Ergo canned food that you could eat cold with a can-opener and spoon is 100% efficient. Add an uneeded moving part like a heating element,, Poof not even good for compost.
Real world experience shows this statement to be correct without a doubt.
 

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Deo VIndice
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Kev;

Glad you found out now, before you actually needed them.
 
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