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What is the Shelf Life of SPAM? Is it Safe to Consume as Survival/SHTF Food?

We all know what SPAM is, but did you know that you can use SPAM as survival food?

If there ever comes a time where food is scarce, a wise individual would have been prepared with many a case o’ Spam.

I’m sure you are wondering why I am such a fan of Spam. Let me give you some data on what I’ve discovered about SPAM:

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  Spam as Survival Food
      The Components or Ingredients
      The Actual Shelf Life
      The Best Way to Store Spam

SPAM as Survival Food

I was raised in a pretty anti-spam household. Only as a strapping young adult, did I get to sample this delicious entree.

Yes, I like Spam. I’ll go one better, I love Spam. I had no idea it was so freaking delicious, oh my parents messed with my mind, pretending it was some nasty thing, to be avoided at all cost. This should have been my first clue that my parents were up to no good, but that’s a story for another time.

Many of us, who were raised in the rural countryside, know that we can hunt for food (aka meat) in the wild, but some of us do not realize that a diet of lean meat, without any kind of fat taken in along the way, will give you protein poisoning and you’ll probably die.

Spam isn’t lean, not in the least. One 12oz can of spam contains 6 2-ounce servings. One 2-ounce serving will give you 15g of fat. Fat, that your body will need in lean times. Toss in the 767 mg of sodium, that you won’t get from deer or rabbit and you’ve just supplied your body with 2 vital “nutrients”, that can make a huge difference, in your post SHTF life.

Another great thing about Spam is that it’s canned meat. It requires no refrigeration and, according to the Hormel Website, the shelf life of Spam is “indefinite”. Hormel also states that spam will be safe to eat much much longer than the “Enjoy By” date, although the flavor may decrease over time. Spam bonus: no one really wants to carry around a bunch of cans of SPAM in their Bug Out Bag, SPAM now comes in a 24 pack of single-serve pouches. Those pouches will fit much better in our bags! I just ordered 2 24 packs!

The Components or Ingredients

As I mentioned earlier, the shelf life of spam is somewhat indefinite, making it a perfect addition to your bug-out or survival bag. But what is the exact shelf life of spam? To determine that, it is crucial to get to know more about its components and ingredients as this will give you an idea about the specific length of time the spam will last.

Spam consists of pork salt, ham, potato starch, water, sodium, nitrate, and sugar. The process of canning the meat and added salt involves the use of high heat, which is why canned meats, such as spam, are well-preserved. Also, take note that aside from ham and pork that are considered as the main ingredients used in making spam, the product also has modified potato starch, which is a big help in binding everything together.

The sodium nitrite also acts as a preservative. It helps a lot in preserving the nice color of meat and its flavor. This ensures that spam will still look appealing even if it sits in a tin for a long period. This also ensures that the meat will not go rancid as it inhibits fat or lipid oxidation in meat. What is great about this process is that it prevents bacteria formation inside the meat.

Aside from binding ingredients, the modified potato starch I mentioned earlier also ensures that the spam will have a consistent texture and taste while also protecting the meat from high levels of acidity and harsh temperature changes. With this, expect a more consistent gelatinization and viscosity from this product.

How Long Does Spam Last? The Actual Shelf Life

Now that you know the usual ingredients in spam that help preserve its look, taste, and texture for quite a long time, I would like to share how long Spam will really last.

In most cases, unopened spam lasts for around 2 to 5 years. Once you open the tin can, you can store it in your fridge for around 7 to 10 days without worrying about it going stale. Before putting a can of spam in your bug-out bag, it is necessary to check its “best before date” first.

However, you should not read nor consider the “best before date” an expiration date because it is not. In fact, some foods, aside from spam, are still safe to eat and edible even after the “best before” date. In case of spam or any other canned meat, for that matter, the “best before” date indicates the recommended time for you to eat it so you can enjoy its best flavor.

The manufacturer often sets or identifies this date. They consider this date as the specific length of time wherein Spam will be at its best before its prime texture, quality, and flavor gets lost. This means that if you properly store spam then its shelf life will most likely go past its best before date.

The Best Way to Store Spam

To preserve the flavor and look of spam and make sure that it remains fresh for as long as possible, it is advisable to store unopened tin cans of it in a dry and dark place. Put your bug-out bag containing spam in a place that does not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit, too. Make sure to check the spam stored in your bag from time to time as well.

Observe it and find out if there are leaks, dents, and rust in it. If there are then it would be best to throw the cans away, even if they are still unopened. An opened tin can of spam should be covered using a plastic cling wrap. Store this in your refrigerator. As an alternative, you should transfer the unconsumed spam in the opened can into a container. Refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it again.


With the long shelf life of spam, I am no longer surprised why it is often included in the bags of preppers and survivalists. It is a great source of protein and calories that can help increase your energy during emergencies or disasters. Spam is easy to serve and prepare, too, making it the ultimate survival food for a lot of survivalists.

And to prove we aren’t snobs here’s some Treet!

Stock up on Spam as survival food. It stores “forever”, its delicious and will provide the fat and sodium you and your family will need.

A zillion Filipino people and I can’t be wrong.

Nutritional Information:



  1. Is there something compatible with SPAM that has no pork? I am very allergic to pork (AND don’t eat it for religious reasons), so this is not an option for us.

    Thank you

      • Jews, seventh day adventists, some orthodox churches (Eritrea, for example), muslims and some other judeo-derived religions don’t eat pork.

        Early Christians probably didn’t either, as they initially adhered to the codes of Jewish law. Over time, Christianity shed many of the restrictive laws … because y’know… bacon tastes goooood. : )

        • If they only tried bacon once (without immediately going straight to hell) they would eat bacon, fried pork chops, seared pork tenderloin, fried spam, fried bologna, boudin, cracklins, etc forever!!!!

  2. I have a friend who was in the air force 1960 – 1964. He swears the air force was still using spam code dated back to WWII. Don’t know, but he swears, when pulling KP, he saw the code dates.


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