Canned Salmon FAQ’s

Canned Salmon FAQs: Questions and Answers

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about canned salmon.

Question: What is the shelf life of canned salmon?

Answer: Canned salmon has quite a long shelf life for canned food products.  If you have already purchased a can of salmon check the label on the can to determine the actual manufacturers recommended shelf life.  A good rule of thumb is that generally a canned salmon product has a shelf life of about six years.  This could be increased if the pantry has low humidity and is quite dry and the can has not been compromised, rusted or otherwise damaged.  Once you have opened the can make sure the leftovers are properly covered, refrigerated and consumed shortly after (see below).

Q: Can canned salmon be stored after it has been opened?

A: Once opened canned salmon can be stored in a refrigerator for about three days if it has been properly wrapped.  It is also possible to freeze canned salmon in a zip-lock or other type of freezer bag for consumption within a few months (just remember to dethaw it).  As with most perishable food products canned salmon should not be left for long time periods at room temperature.

Q: Why does canned salmon sometimes have glass looking crystals in it?

A: Every so often some people may find and be curious what the glass-like crystals are in canned salmon.  These are called struvite crystals and might be mistaken by a consumer for a shard of glass.  A variety of canned seafood products sometimes contain these naturally made crystals.  Struvite crystals are formed after the salmon has been put in the can and are made of magnesium ammonium phosphate.  They have a hardness compared to table salt and can be crushed into a powder with your finger.  They dissolve in water and in your stomach.

Q: What is the creamy substance in canned salmon?

A: Sometimes canned salmon will have a whitish cream like substance found on the surface of the salmon can.  This is a protein type substance that is present in raw salmon flesh.  As a salmon is cooked these juices can get separated and coagulate and may be present in the top of your canned salmon.

Q: Why do some brands of canned salmon use tapered cans?

A: Tapered cans for canned salmon are used simply to conserve space.  Empty tapered cans can be stored inside one another and therefore take up less space.  This can lower costs, especially when shipping to far away salmon canneries in Alaska and Northwest British Columbia.

Q: Is it okay to feed canned salmon to my dog? Can I feed canned salmon to my cat?

A: Canned salmon is made for human consumption and therefore it is not recommended to regularly feed to your pets.  Cats and in most cases dogs are much smaller than humans and many of the allowable product FDA or CFIA regulations, for example mercury in canned fish products, will be too high for a pet.  However many people do choose to feed their dog or cat canned salmon occasionally which in most cases, depending on the breed and specific diet needs of your pet, should be fine.  If you choose to do this it is advisable to use no-salt canned salmon in order to ensure your pet maintains low sodium levels.

Q: How can I tell if my canned salmon is wild salmon or farmed salmon?

A: Most of the canned salmon found in supermarkets across North America is sourced from wild salmon fisheries.  However, there are a few companies that may use farmed salmon in their cans.  One of the best indicators of whether your salmon is sourced from the wild or from a fish farm is by looking at the labeling on the can.  Many companies will indicate directly on the can that their salmon is wild caught.  In addition, it may be helpful to know a little bit about the company and whether it has any corporate principles that prohibit them from using salmon caught from salmon farms.   If the can is not properly labeled or vague you may be able to taste the difference.  Farmed salmon has a higher fat content than wild salmon and is usually slightly more orange in color.  Because of the higher fat percentage farmed salmon will have a texture that is more rubbery and chewy than wild salmon with a slightly less potent flavor.

Q: How do I know if my canned salmon is from a sustainable salmon fishery?

A:  As mentioned in the question above the best indicator of the source of your salmon is found on the can.  Typically companies that employ sustainable fishing practices will disclose this on the can and usually more information on the label is a good sign.  For example the label should mention the type of salmon, whether it is wild caught and where it is from.  If a can just says “Salmon” on it with no other information you can probably bet that it is from a questionable source and should be avoided.
In addition there are a variety of certification labels that may be present on the salmon can that can help you make informed decisions about whether your salmon is sustainable.  Getting to know these labels and what they stand for can be very helpful.  Some examples include the MSC label (Marine Stewardship Council) and OceanWise (a program run by the Vancouver Aquarium).

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Q: Where can I buy canned salmon?

A: Most retail stores in North America have canned salmon for sale.  There are also a variety of websites that sell canned salmon online.  Really you should have no problems finding places to buy canned salmon but if you want to purchase canned salmon or no-salt added canned salmon it is for sale here: