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Long-Term Emergency Food Storage

Gradually amass an ample supply of non-perishable foods, such as beans, white rice, and wheat. Be sure to rotate canned foods.

Non-perishable food that is stored in a dry and cool location and packaged properly can remain spoilage-free for more than 30 years. If you have a 3 month supply, food can be rotated frequently.

Food That Can Last 30 Years or More

Low-moisture foods that are packaged properly and stored in rooms that constantly remain at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or lower can remain edible for 30 years or longer.

Food storage recommendations have traditionally been based on recommendations printed on labels provided by food manufacturers. However, recent scientific studies have demonstrated that certain foods that are packaged and stored properly can remain edible much longer. In addition to wheat, white rice, vitamin C tablets, beans, baking soda, salt, and sugar store well for a long period of time. Vegetable oil and other perishable items need to be rotated every 1-2 years.

Nutritional value and taste diminish over time, although food that is packaged, preserved, and stored properly can retain its original quality. However, scientific research has shown that food stored for extended periods will continue to sustain life during a natural disaster or other emergency.

Review the Longer-Term Food Supply section for strategies on preserving food for a long time.

Food Items "Life-Sustaining" Shelf-Life Estimates
Wheat30+ years
White Rice30+ years
Corn30+ years
Sugar30+ years
Pinto Beans30+ years
Rolled Oats30+ years
Pasta30+ years
Potato Flakes30+ years
Apple Slices30+ years
Non-fat Powdered Milk20+ years
Dehydrated Carrots20+ years


Product Recommendations

The first thing you should include in your long-term food supply is wheat, white rice, corn and other grains. Most grains when stored property will last for 30 or more years. You should store 11.5 kg (25 lbs) of grains per person for each month, as an average adult will each 25lbs worth of grain based foods in a month. The second items we recommend including in your long-term food supply are dry beans. These also will last more than 30 years if stored properly. You should store 2.5 kg (5 lbs) of dry beans per person for each month of food storage.

Also, consider adding the following items to your food storage supply: cooking oil, baking soda, salt, nonfat dry milk, and sugar. Since itís difficult to store vegetable long term, consider adding vitamin C and other nutritional supplements to your food storage.

Packaging Recommendations

The following are containers that should be used for long-term food storage:
  • #10 cans (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintís (LDS) home storage centers sell these cans throughout Canada and the U.S.)
  • Foil pouches
  • PETE bottles (these bottles are designed for dry products, including beans, corn, and wheat)
Place oxygen absorber packets in these containers to eliminate the possibility of spoilage and food-borne disease, improve taste, and retain nutritional value.

In certain areas, plastic buckets can be used to store dry beans, wheat, and other dry food products for an extended period of time.

Warning: Moist food products stored in containers that arenít 100 percent oxygen resistant can become contaminated with Botulism. Items stored with oxygen absorbers in airtight containers should be dry or have low moisture content, 10 percent or less.

Storage Conditions

These conditions significantly affect food storage quality:
  • Temperature: Store food in rooms that constantly remain at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If food must be stored in rooms with higher temperatures, frequently rotate it to maintain quality.
  • Moisture: Store food in dry rooms. Do not store food containers on floors, so air can circulate underneath them.
  • Light: Store cooking oil and PETE bottles in areas shielded from light.
  • Insects and rodents: PETE bottles and foil pouches should be stored in areas protected from insect and rodent infestation.

Dry Products for Longer-Term Food Storage

Only dry food, products with 10 percent or less of moisture content, should be stored long-term.

Warning: Moist food that is packaged in oxygen-reduced packaging can become contaminated with botulism.

Dry foods not designed for longer-term storage include:
  • Pearled Barley
  • Dried Eggs
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Milled Grains (other than rolled oats)
  • Granola
  • Dried Meat (such as beef jerky)
  • Nuts
  • Brown Rice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Dehydrated Fruits (unless very dry)
  • Dehydrated Vegetables (unless very dry)
PETE Bottles For Longer-Term Storage

Food stored in PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles with oxygen absorbers, including dry beans, corn, and wheat. PETE bottles are inscribed with the letters PET or PETE.

Other plastic bottles with oxygen absorbers usually do not prevent excessive moisture accumulation. Never use containers previously used for non-food products to store food.

PETE bottles are also frequently used to store white rice and other dry foods for a short period of time, usually 5 years or less.

Only store moist foods with 10 percent or less of moisture content since moist foods placed in reduced oxygen packaging can become contaminated with botulism.

Packaging in PETE Bottles

1. Use bottles with rubber or plastic screw-on lids. Confirm that storage contents will not leak by submerging a sealed bottle underwater. If bubbles emerge from the bottle, it is not leak-proof.

2.Use dish soap to sterilize used bottles, and remove excess residue by immediately drying them after theyíre washed. Ensure bottles are completely dry prior to placing food in them.

3. Insert oxygen absorbers in every bottle. Absorbers can be placed in bottles that are up to a gallon in capacity.

4.Fill containers with dry beans, corn, or wheat.

5.Before sealing the bottle tightly, wipe the top portion of it with a dry towel. 6.Store the containers in a dry and cool location shielded from light.

7.Ensure containers are stored in a location protected from rodent and insect infestations.

8.Insert a new oxygen absorber in every container that is refilled.

Where to Get Oxygen Absorber Packets

Oxygen absorbers can be purchased online at various emergency preparedness and food storage websites. Unused oxygen absorbers should be placed in air-tight glass jars with gaskets.

Oxygen Absorbers

Oxygen absorbers preserve nutritional quality and protect food from moisture and pests. They are typically inserted into dry food containers.

What are oxygen absorbers made of?

Oxygen absorbers are little pouches filled with iron powder. These pouches are designed to trap oxygen without iron powder leaking out of the container.

How do oxygen absorbers work?

Moisture from dry foods causes the iron to rust within the absorber. During the oxidation process, iron sucks up the oxygen. Absorbers designed for 300 cubic centimeters (cc) of oxygen function best in one-gallon or smaller containers.

Is the use of oxygen absorbers equivalent to vacuum packaging?

Oxygen absorbers eliminate oxygen better than vacuum packaging. Air is composed of 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen. These products only absorb oxygen since nitrogen will not damage stored food or attract insects.

What types of products can be stored using oxygen absorbers?

Use absorbers with foods containing low oil and moisture content. Foods with high moisture content, 10 percent or higher, should not be stored for a long period of time to avoid botulism contamination.

What types of containers can be used with oxygen absorbers for food storage?

Place oxygen absorbers in tightly-sealed containers resistant to moisture. The following are effective containers:
  • Seamed lid metal containers.
  • Foil pouches. These products can be purchased through various online food storage websites.
  • Air-tight lid PETE plastic bottles.
  • Glass jars used for canning with gaskets.
Oxygen absorbers do not adequately protect against moisture in milk bottles, plastic buckets, and other non-PET or PETE containers.

What is the proper way to use oxygen absorbers?

1. Open the bag of absorbers without opening individual absorber pouches.

2. Only remove absorbers from the bag that will be used immediately, and place the remaining pouches on a plate. Close the bag after the pouches have been removed. Plan in advance how many pouches will be used during the storage process since constantly opening and closing the package can reduce absorber efficiency.

3. Do not place excess absorbers in zip lock bags. Utilize the following methods to store them:
  • Seal absorber bags with clamps.
  • Use an impulse heat sealer to close absorber bags.
  • If an impulse sealer is unavailable and you intend to store absorbers for an extended period of time, place extra absorbers in a glass jar with a gasket. 25 absorbers can be stored in a one-pint jar.
4. Insert a single absorber in each food container during the packaging process.

Foil Pouches For Longer-Term Storage

What types of foods can be packaged in pouches?

Pouches can be placed in containers with dry and shelf-stable food containing little or no oil. Moist food stored in reduced-oxygen packaging can be contaminated with botulism.

How much food does each pouch hold?

Each pouch is designed for 1 gallon or smaller containers, but weight differs by food product. For example, one pouch can be placed in a container containing 5 pounds of dry mile, 7 pounds of white rice, and 7 pounds of wheat.

Do foods react with the aluminum in the pouch?

Food will not react with aluminum-filled pouches since the food and aluminum are kept apart by a food-grade plastic layering. This barrier is important in keeping moisture and oxygen away from stored food.

What is the best way to seal pouches?

Seal pouches with an impulse sealer. Refrain from using irons and other heating devices since they will not properly seal containers, especially ones containing dry milk and flour. Good impulse sealers can create 3/16 and 11.5 inch seals. These devices are also equipped with safety buttons to stop sealing if there are problems with the jaw.

Where can I find an impulse sealer?

Impulse sealers can be purchased online at various food storage websites.

Is it necessary to remove all the air from the pouches?

Itís not necessary since oxygen absorbers absorb excess air. Dry foods stored in containers with oxygen absorbers retain quality and resist insect infestations.

Is it normal for the sides of the pouch to pull in once the pouch is sealed?

Itís typical for sealed pouches to slightly pull in after a couple of days. Pull is more noticeable with pouches containing granular foods.

How should pouches of food be stored?

Pouches should be stored in rodent-free, dry, and cool rooms. Do not place containers against walls or on concrete floors.

Are pouches rodent proof?

No. Place pouches in pest or rodent proof containers if you suspect any potential problems. Never store them in containers previously used for non-food products.

Should emergency kits be packaged in pouches?

Numerous emergency supply products are not designed to be stored in foil pouches. Food rations and first aid products should be placed in containers with removable lids since these items should be rotated periodically.

Pouch Sealer Instructions

For Portable Operation of AIE (and ME) 305 A1 Sealers

Read the sheet prior to operating a pouch sealer.

Setting up

1. Put the sealer on a table about 5 inches from the top. It must be placed at this height since the sealerís jaw opening must be 8Ĺ inches above the surface for the ideal sealing position. Connect the sealerís foot switch to the rear of the device. Once this is done, put the foot switch on the flood and plug in the device to a power source. When the sealer is plugged in, ensure that children are not within the room.

2. To use the sealer, follow these steps: switch the Action Selector to manual, sealing dial to 4, congealing dial to 6, and the Recycle dial to 2. Then proceed to open the oxygen absorber bag and remove all the packets that will be used immediately. Once all this is done, use the impulse sealer to reseal the bag.

3. If additional absorbers are needed, open the bag and promptly reseal it.

Filling pouches

1. Place about one gallon of food into each pouch. Do not overfill the pouch since doing so will reduce the effectiveness of the seal. Use a two-quart pitcher when filling pouches to limit overfilling.

2. Put an absorber on top of the food in every pouch.

3. When storing powdered products, use a dry cloth to wipe residue from the seal area.

Sealing pouches

1. Switch the power switch on. Make sure children are not within the immediate sealing area while using the sealer.

2. Place the pouch upright in front of the impulse sealer. Ensure it is placed stably on the table. Check to make sure it is not hanging from the table.

3. Hold the side seams and tightly pull them outward to shut the pouch. Fold the upper 1Ĺ inches portion of the pouch (30Ė40 mm) to form a right angle, and press down on the pouch to release additional air from it. After extra air has been removed, flatten the opening of the pouch. If the pouch is difficult to fold, recheck it and ensure itís not too full.

4. Grasp the pouch at the side seams and place the pouchís top edge into the jaw opening. Make sure your fingers are a safe distance from the jaw.

5. Place the pouch in a position where it can be easily sealed at the top. Remove wrinkles from the pouch by stretching it outward. Activate the sealer by pressing firmly on the foot switch. Once youíre done sealing the pouch, label it with the packaging date.

Testing seals

1. Examine the seams to make sure they resemble factory seams and are free of burned spots.

2. Tug on the seams to ensure they cannot be pulled apart.

3. Gently press the pouch to ensure air cannot be expelled.

4. If seams can be separated, check for overfill or residue around the seam area. Increase the sealing setting by a one-fourth step if seams are loose and check the congealing setting to ensure it is at 6.

5. Decrease the sealing setting by a fourth of a step if burning is noticeable at the seams.

Notes

1. Each sealer is manufactured with two bolts extending outward from the device. These bolts are designed to hold the shelf that comes with the sealer. Remove the bolts before using the sealer.

2. Teflon covers located on the lower jaw often get burned. If this happens, unplug the sealer, lift the cover, and clean burrs found on the heat strip.

3. If the sealer is not working properly, examine the 2 fuses located in the lower back of the case. Replace the fuses if necessary.

4. Limit dry food storage to foods that retain nutritional quality and flavor. Do not package foods in damp or humid rooms.

Plastic Buckets For Longer-Term Storage

Plastic buckets can be used to store dry food long-term. However, only use buckets constructed with food-grade plastic and equipped with gasket-lined lids. Do not use buckets that have previously held non-food products.

To reduce the chance of insect infestation, use dry ice to treat dry beans and grains. Nitrogen gas flushing and oxygen absorbers do not work effectively in plastic buckets. Do not package food in damp and humid rooms.

Dry Ice Treatment Instructions

  • Use exactly an ounce of dry ice per gallon. Never place dry ice in metal containers, regardless of size, since pressure can build excessively.
  • Only handle dry ice while wearing protective gloves.
  • Use a dry and clean cloth to remove frost crystals that accumulate on the dry ice.
  • Insert dry ice at the center and bottom of the container.
  • Fill the container with dry beans or grain. Leave about an inch of space near the top.
  • Insert the lid on the bucket but leave it partially open until the carbon dioxide gas exits the bucket.
  • Make sure all the gas exits the bucket before sealing it. Touch the bottom of the container to see if itís warm or cold. If it is cold, solid dry ice is still present in the container.
  • Keep an eye of the container for a few minutes after the lid is sealed. If any bulges are noticeable, lift the lid slightly to release pressure.
  • Do not be alarmed if the bucketís lid is pushed down slightly since this is caused by the vacuum created from absorbed carbon dioxide.
Storage of Plastic Buckets

  • Place plastic buckets an inch above the floor to increase air circulation underneath buckets.
  • Do not stack more than 2 buckets on top of each other. Stacking multiple buckets can cause lids to break.
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