The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests that undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and “retort pouches” (like flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you follow this procedure:
- Remove the labels, if they are the removable kind, since they can harbor dirt and bacteria.
- Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
- Thoroughly wash the cans or retort pouches with soap and water, using hot water if it is available.
- Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water that is safe for drinking, if available, since dirt or residual soap will reduce the effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
- Sanitize cans and retort pouches by immersion in one of the two following ways:
– Place in water and allow the water to come to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes.
– Place in a freshly made solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available) for 15 minutes.
- Air dry cans or retort pouches for a minimum of 1 hour before opening or storing.
- If the labels were removable, then re-label your cans or retort pouches, including the expiration date (if available), with a permanent marking pen.
Food in reconditioned cans or retort pouches should be used as soon as possible thereafter.
Baby Formula Tip: For infants, try to use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water. Otherwise, dilute any concentrated baby formula in reconditioned, all-metal containers with clean drinking water.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods, https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm076881.htm#how.