Why You Probably Shouldn't Heat Canned Foods While Still In The Can

Have you ever thought about placing canned stew or veggies directly on a fire to warm them up? It seems logical. After all, you cook in metal pans, so why can't you warm up some green beans in the can? Though it may appear like an easy way to heat up baked beans for a campfire meal, for example, doing so can create health risks.

Instead of cooking food in the can it's packaged in, you may want to consider the recommended, safe way to eat these foods. Medicine Net shares that it's beneficial to consume any canned food immediately after opening it if you don't plan to cook or reheat it. If you plan to warm it up, empty everything in the can into a pan to cook on a stovetop or into a bowl to warm in the microwave. 

This may seem like an extra step you don't want to have to take (and another dish to wash), but there are a few big reasons why heating food directly in the can isn't safe.

The risk of chemical release is high

Though some people say it is possible to cook canned foods in the can since the canning process eliminates the bacteria present, there's still the risk of metal and plastic chemicals leaching into the food during the heating process. Scientific American explains that American canned foods typically come in steel, though beverages are often in aluminum. That aluminum is particularly dangerous because it can leach into the food. In steel, small amounts of chromium and nickel can get into your food.

The other concern is that to prevent that leaching from occurring, manufacturers line the cans with food-grade epoxies. That sounds good, except that some of them contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) and other chemicals, which have been linked to diabetes and cancer. To avoid this and other risks, seek out cans specifically marked "BPA-free."

If you plan to cook food in a can, make sure to open the can first and recognize that the metal may burn quickly when met with flames. This works, for example, when cooking baked beans in the can, according to Gone Outdoors.