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How to Recognize Can Defects

"Never eat food from a tin can with bulging ends" was a maxim many grew up with. Bulging was one of several clues that might indicate contamination of food packaged in metal cans. Guidelines have been adapted for recognizing defects in cans made of plastic and other materials, as well.

The guidelines are:

Metal Cans

    * an obvious opening underneath the double seam on the top or bottom of the can
    * a can with bulging ends
    * a fracture in the double seam
    * a pinhole or puncture in the body of the can
    * an unwelded portion of the side seam
    * a leak from anywhere in the can

Plastic Cans

    * any opening or non-bonding in the seal
    * a break in the plastic
    * a fractured lid
    * a swollen package

Paperboard Cans

    * a patch in the seal where bonding or adhesive is missing
    * a slash or slice in the package
    * a leak in a corner of the package
    * a swollen package

Glass Jars

    * a pop-top that does not pop when opened (indicating loss of the vacuum)
    * a damaged seal
    * a crack in the glass of the jar

Flexible Pouches

    * a break in the adhesive across the width of the seal
    * a slash or break in the package
    * a leak at a manufactured notch used for easy opening
    * a swollen package

FDA Consumer magazine, Sept 1990
(From a chart for retailers developed by FDA and NFPA and published by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists.)


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