Canned foods have an exceptionally long shelf life, typically ranging from 1 to 5 years.

Metal cans and closures provide a hermetically sealed functional barrier that isolates food contents from sunlight and oxygen, which are the two main factors of premature food quality degradation. This exceptional barrier quality contrasts sharply with materials such as paper and plastic, which tend to be more permeable to gases, water, organic vapor and low molecular weight compounds.

As a result, canned foods have shelf lives that are typically measured in years, while foods stored in other packaging materials typically have shelf lives that are measured in weeks or months.