How are food cans able to keep the food safe

How are food cans able to keep the food safe

In many parts of the world people use the name tin can and aluminium can interchangeably but these two cans are not the same thing. They both are used for similar general purposes of carrying and keeping the food items safe and fresh for a very long time but they are made of different materials and have very different properties.

Both of these elements are to an extent not reactive with food items that they carry and have properties that ensure the products longevity. They are certainly stronger than cartons and plastic materials and much more sturdier than glass bottles and protect the product in transit while also reducing any kind of secondary packaging. Their manufacturing costs also differ by an appreciable margin though both types of cans are recycled and can be used for an almost infinite number of times.

Canning of food items started sometime in the early 1800’s when the tin can was mainly used for carrying food materials to preserve them from the oxygen in the air and light. Tin is a low melting metal that is malleable at room temperature. However early tin cans were soldered with an alloy of tin and lead which could result in food poisoning when used as food cans. Modern day food cans go through a stringent process of cleaning and sanitisation to kill harmful bacteria like pasteurization, boiling and even radiation.

Later on tin-plated steel cans were used to avoid contamination issues as well as to provide better strength and relatively lower price. The tin used in these tin-plated steel cans was only around 2 kilograms for every ton of steel used. Aluminium cans on the other hand started being used from the late 1950s as they were cheaper than tin-plated steel while providing the same degree of resistance to corrosion while being even more easily malleable thus reducing manufacturing costs. Although aluminium is abundant in the earth’s crust it is difficult to refine and is always found as compounds in nature and some of these alloys are found to be best for use as food cans.

This use of aluminium cans gave rise to the two-piece can making process rather than the laborious three-piece cans where the entire can albeit the lid is stamped out of a single sheet of aluminium and rolled into the shape of the cylindrical can. Their use also increased due to their high efficiency for recycling that makes them a cost effective and better alternative to the much heavier though more durable tin can which cannot be as easily recycled.

There are at present no less than 1,500 types of food items that are packed into these tin can to make them into food cans. Innovations in opening mechanisms like the pull tabs that can also be resealed to safeguard food for an even longer duration. These renovations combined with their natural anti-corrosive properties have made food cans an easy to use option for all ages and their reliability to keep the food items safe and fresh make them an integral part of our daily lives.