Best way to dispose of REALLY old canned goods?

2ajsmamaAugust 17, 2011

My cousin has been renovating the farmhouse for the past 3 years, working his way down from the attic/upstairs apartment (when my godmother was still living on ground floor) down to the basement. He's found all sorts of canned goods - he didn't say how old but I'm guessing over 30 years since my godmother died a couple of years ago at age 90 and wasn't too mobile for the past 15 years or so).

These we most likely BWB (I don't know if my godmother owned a PC) and who knows what recipes were used. He didn't say what kind of food but I'd be worried about botulism - definitely wouldn't eat them but we're a bit worried about even opening them to pour down the drain and then boiling the jars. But is it safe to bring them to the dump to go in a landfill? I'm worried about them breaking on the way, or in the dumping process, and contaminating his pickup, the collection site (landfill is in another town, they truck everything there), or the landfill.

What about boiling the sealed jars and then dumping the contents down the drain, boiling the empty jars and using bleach in the sink?


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Oh, I should say I *did* read this from NCHFP but still don't know about transporting such things and just bringing them to the town dump, b/c of risk of breakage somewhere along the way. Also some of the jars are the old wire bail type with rubber seals. I don't know if any of them are leaking.

Maybe just boiling the jars and packing them in boxes so at least they don't break in the pickup truck? Then if they do break during transfer to the landfill at least they've been boiled? Or are we risking breaking the seals (if still sealed) or jars by boiling?

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP link on handling spoiled food

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 10:19AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First you have to call them and see if they will accept them as some landfills/dumps will not and some charge a fee. If they will accept them just pack them lid side up in cardboard boxes for transportation and put the boxes top up in plastic trash bags to catch any breakage. You can pack wads of newspaper between them if necessary. Wear gloves.

If they won't accept them you'll have to find some place else to dispose of them.

As explained at NCHFP link handling acidic foods like pickles and fruits have very different handling methods than low acid foods do. So the first step is to discover what foods they are. High acid foods are much easier to dispose of than low-acid. Again wear gloves while sorting the jars.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 12:23PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

As Dave mentioned, it's only the low-acid product (like green beans, corn, meat, etc.) that present a health risk that limits your options for disposal.

High-acid foods like applesauce, jams, berries, can safely be dumped out of the jars and onto a compost pile or whatever the options are for you there. Those jars can be cleaned and re-used or passed on to someone else.

The low-acid product should be disposed of as Dave mentioned, and if the landfill won't take the jars, then ask them what your options are.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 3:53PM
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Thanks - I tried calling my cousin today after reading Dave's reply, but no answer. I hope he hasn't already just thrown them in a bag (or dumped them down a drain!). I'll catch up with them hopefully tomorrow so they call the dump, and I'll ask what the foods are (if they can tell).

He did say that there were a bunch of old jars both in the basement and in the "old" barn(as opposed to the "new" barn which is only 60-70 years old - re-roofed it in 1970-something). I told him I couldn't use the wire bail ones, sell them on eBay or CL. But I might be interested in newer ones - and he could use some half-gallon ones to ferment his pickles!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 7:46PM
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Thanks, I did stop by yesterday. They haven't started cleaning out the old jars, she said they're "not looking forward to it" (me either) but I will drop off a bunch of boxes and newspaper this weekend.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 7:07AM
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