Food Safety: Food Sorting Tips

Here is a helpful guide to reference when trying to decide whether or not to discard food items. For the full guide, head to the Food Safety link on the Agency Portal.


  • The seal is pierced
  • There is visual evidence of product contamination
  • A glass jar’s lid is dented
  • A jar has a raised center that does not spring back after being depressed
  • A can has a crease that is folded onto itself
  • A can has a dent deeper than a thumbnail or with sharp corners
  • A can has a dent so deep it deforms the end of the can causing it to wobble
  • A can has rust remaining after wiping
  • A can has a crease or dent over the seam
  • A can is swollen


  • The seal is slightly damaged but shows no evidence of tampering
  • A can has a flat dent on a seam no more than 1/4 inch (unless the dent is tipped inward)
  • It is a pull-top can lid with dents, but only if the contents are dried foods with no leakage
  • The band is broken and the pop-up seal is intact
  • Produce has some spots

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