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Apparently I've had various salmon/tuna packets in the my car for months, likely being heated near 100° F, off and on.

Other info:

  • Still before the confusing 'BEST IF USED BY' date of August 2018.
  • Sealed in an aluminum lined packet.

I'm torn between it being sealed and the obvious summer month temperature changes.

Are these things safe to eat in this context?

example packet of pink salmon

  • Welcome! I slightly rephrased your title because it sounded like you were asking us to dare you to do it :D – Catija Aug 7 '17 at 18:16
  • It's worth opening one or two to inspect for spoilage. – Quinto Aug 7 '17 at 19:10
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    I'd dump this ASAP, and I'm someone who is not afraid of eating over-date stuff etc. – user34961 Aug 7 '17 at 20:17
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    We use IMPs/MREs in the military that are similar to this. There isn't often a concern about how hot it might have gotten, but they aren't typically stored this way. Can't give a good answer without a better knowledge of the brand. If this was the post-apocalypse, of course, you should risk it. – Wolfgang Aug 7 '17 at 21:14
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    @Catija: Quite frankly, I always feel these questions have a bit of truth-or-dare feeling to them, and I have to restrain myself to not call "dare" on the OP.... – Willem van Rumpt Aug 9 '17 at 20:25
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The standard processing for this type of "flexible can" or "retort pouch" packaging is a certain amount of time at 250F or so to completely sterilize the contents. There's nothing alive in there to cause spoilage, or the process would not work at all.

As such, I find the comment stream remarkably uninformed - will 130F damage the package? If so, it would never have made it out of the factory...and the widespread precursor to the civilian application of this package (as mentioned in a more informed comment) is the MRE, and you can bet those go through some roasty-toasty temperatures in desert war zones.

If the packages are sealed, they are still sterile. Nothing that happened in your car is anywhere near the temperatures that were used to sterilize the contents in the first place.

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    I don't know about pouches, but see the quotes in my answer re: old food in cans](cooking.stackexchange.com/a/47053/67), as I have a quote from Harold McGee : "Store foods at 40 degrees above normal—around 100 degrees—and you can get an idea of a year’s change in just three months. But it’s possible to go further. At 120 degrees, you get a year’s worth of change in six weeks; at 140 degrees, three weeks; at 180 degrees, five days.". (but that article also talks about how some foods become better with age ... but I think they're really talking about pressure cooking in the can) – Joe Aug 15 '17 at 17:26
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The short answer is that it's impossible to provide a definitive answer.

The shelf life is highly dependent on the temperature. Being kept in such a warm environment should have shortened the shelf life dramatically. Whether that means that it's unsafe is a difficult question to answer. And even if it's safe, it might not be pleasant to eat.

It's entirely possible that it's safe to eat. MREs, which are similarly packaged, have been shown to be safe to eat after decades. https://beprepared.com/blog/3496/mre-meal-ready-to-eat-shelf-life/ However, that doesn't mean that all old MREs are safe to eat. It also doesn't guarantee that old fish is safe to eat. It just shows that it's plausible that it might be safe.

A car is a rough environment for packaged food. There's a chance that one or more packages were compromised by repeated flexing, abrasion, or high internal pressure from thermal expansion. The result would be unsafe food. I recommend throwing it out.

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My answer to your question regarding the salmon and tuna in packets that have been left in the car in hot temperatures DO NOT EAT IT!!! Think about it, we cook in aluminum pots, the pots get hot and cooks the food in that aluminum pot. At 100 degrees, that's hot!!! I live in a hot climate and take a bag with ice packs just to take my foods to my home, it only takes me 20 minutes to get home and I paranoid about spoilage. Didn't want to give a professional, chemically derived answer just an answer to keep you safe.

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    I think the fish is already cooked and sealed within the pouch - think of the pouch as a softer version of a can. As a new member, let me point you to the tour and our help center and, for future questions of this type, our faq on food safety. – Stephie Aug 14 '17 at 21:24

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