Avoid Botulism in Canned Foods

February is National Canned Food Month – a great time to remember that canned fruits and vegetables are an economical way to boost the amount of plant-based foods in our diets. But there are also some important considerations to keep your family safe when enjoying canned food varieties. Clostridium Botulinum are rare but deadly bacteria that can grow in low-acid canned foods. Follow these key steps to reduce your risk.

Avoid heavily dented or bulging cans. Slightly dented cans are fine, but deeply dented cans that have sharp points should be discarded.

Be careful with rust. Rust that can wipe off is generally safe, but discard a can if the rust can’t be wiped off.

Follow safe home canning guidelines. Most cases of botulism come from improper home canning. Use a pressure canner and follow the USDA Home Canning Guidelines when canning low-acid foods.

Discard expired canned foods. They do expire! These expiration dates have a tendency to get overlooked because canned foods last a long time, and it’s easy to lose track of how long they have been in the pantry. Before opening a can, check the date on the bottom.

Celebrate National Canned Food Month by making this easy and colorful bean salad that can be enjoyed as a buffet side dish or as a meatless entrée. One half-cup of beans, such as kidney or pinto contain about the same amount of protein as one egg or one ounce of meat. 

Tricolor Bean Salad

Recipe by Angela Lemond, RDN, LD, CSP


  • 1 16-ounce can no-added salt French-cut green beans, drained
  • 1 16-ounce can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-ounce pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar and spices together. In a large bowl, combine the beans.
  2. Pour oil and spice mixture over the beans and stir gently.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour, and serve cold.


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Angela Lemond
Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD, is a Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice. Read her blog, Lemond Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.