There are six conditions to be aware of when storing food for emergency preparedness food storage, or outdoor recreation. The foods being referred to in this post are shelf-stable freeze-dried, dehydrated, dried or canned foods.
- Temperature – This is the primary factor affecting the storage life of any foods. The cooler the better, 40-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is generally fine. Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time. The longer food is exposed to very high temperatures the shorter the edible life and the faster the degeneration of nutritional value. There are some foods available for emergency preparedness that is known as “emergency food or ration bars.” These products were originally designed for life rafts and can withstand high heat for extended periods of time. They primarily consist of white sugar and white flour, but were not meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time.
- Moisture – Moisture can deteriorate food rapidly and create conditions that promote the growth of harmful organisms, so the lower the better. The moisture level contained in foods varies depending on the type of food it is. Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. Be careful where you store dry foods in cans. Very cold flooring or any condition where there is a dramatic temperature differential may cause a buildup of condensation inside the container.
- Oxygen – A high oxygen environment causes oxidation, which leads to discoloration, flavor loss, odors, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value in foods. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live, nor can oxygen dependent organisms. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and if free from infestation. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in a very reduced (2% or less) oxygen environment for long-term storage.
- Infestation – Examples include rodents, insects in all their stages of growth, mold, and microorganisms. The proper packaging and storage conditions are required to control infestation and not allow critters to both get into the food, or have the necessary environment for them to flourish if they are sealed into a container, such as in the form of eggs or spores.
- Handling – Rough handling can not only damage the food itself, but it can also adversely affect and compromise the integrity of the container in which the food is stored. Glass of course can break; any pouched item can develop pin holes, tears, or cracks. The seams on buckets and cans can be tweaked, twisted, or damaged to allow oxygen to enter the container.
- Light – Food should not be stored in direct sunlight because of the potential of high temperature, and its effect on food value. Sunlight directly on stored foods can destroy nutritional value and hasten the degeneration of food quality, taste, and appearance. Foods packed in light barrier containers do not pose a problem with the effects of light.
If you remember these six steps when packaging food for long term storage you’ll have better results and when it’s time to use your food storage in the event of an emergency you will be confident that it is still good.
Author: The Survival Guy
- Is Your Food Still Safe to Eat? (everydayhealth.com)
- Food Storage Bags & Containers For The Survival Pantry (whitenewsnow.com)
- Long Term Food Storage Basics (thesurvivalplaceblog.com)