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corrosion. Since rusting requires the presence of metal, oxygen and moisture,
it can be prevented by removing any one of the factors. Outside the can, moisture is the only factor that can be readily controlled. External corrosion may be
exacerbated by any of the following factors:
Condensation due to
Labels and paperboard divider sheets
Incomplete drying
Hygroscopic deposits
Low external tin coating and/or
lacquer coverage
Physical damage
Rusty retorts
Poor venting of retorts
Boiler water carry-over into retort
Label adhesive
temperature fluctuations, humidity
changes, draughts, poor stacking
high chloride or sulphate
free water
moisture from humid environment
high metal exposure
damage to lacquer and tincoating of
rust particles
oxygen and water
alkali detinning
too acidic or alkaline
External corrosion often occurs at specific points on the can, such as the end
seams, or the score lines on easy-open ends. This is sometimes interpreted as
a fault in the can, whereas in many cases, the problem is due to poor drying or
storage of the cans. In these circumstances, corrosion has simply begun at the
weakest point on the can.
External corrosion can also be caused by leaking product from neighbouring cans. This can be a particular problem with beverage cans, where a single
leaking can, possibly caused by mechanical damage, results in product leaking
all over the other cans in the store.
In general, the shelf life of a can will depend upon the product, the can specification and the storage conditions in which it is held. Every can is a unit of sale
and as such each and every can must comply with the legislation relevant to it.
For this reason, and because of the many variables associated with the product,
from the grower through to the retailer, it is very difficult to assign a specific
shelf life to any product. The experience of the packer is most critical in
arriving at sensible conclusions. Overall, however, due to the many different
factors affecting shelf life, it is often impossible to predict, and tests with the
actual product are the best course of action.
Recent innovations in the design and manufacture of metal packaging for
food products include: large opening stay-on-tab ends for drink cans, widgets