SPAM & Canned Meats

Monday, 17 September 2012 | Tags: , ,

First introduced in 1937, SPAM is canned, precooked meat made by Hormel Foods. While there have since been many duplicates released on the market, SPAM has sold over 7 billion cans! We find out whether SPAM can still hold its own against other popular brands on the market today.


  • SPAM, the original canned meat, is made from cooked ground pork shoulder and ham (pork rear). 

  • No refrigeration is needed, which makes spam convenient for camping, hiking, etc. and it’s ideal to keep on hand to enjoy anytime or for an emergency stash (although it does have a “best before” date.)

  • Those who enjoy SPAM eat it countless ways, including grilled, fried, baked, and even straight out of the can. Lots of recipe ideas at!

  • Luncheon meats are typically cured and cooked through treatment with common salt and sodium nitrate, and heat treatment. 

  • Mechanically deboned meat means the meat has gone through a machine that separates the tissue from bone. It is then bound together in luncheon meat products using non-meat additives, meat emulsions, and extracted myofibrillar proteins. These additives make the meat soft and pliable, and then it is shaped into a preferred sellable form.

  • In the curing process, sodium nitrite helps prevent growth of harmful bacteria, and it is used with sodium nitrate as a colour fixative to make meat look pink. Nitrite, though necessary, creates a potentially harmful, carcinogenic chemical if heated at a high temperature.

  • Meats that have been cured without nitrites/nitrates are available, but you may have to ask for it at a specialty butcher shop. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have that “healthy pink” colour. That’s actually artificial due to the nitrites/nitrates!

  • Nutritionally, canned meats can be high in sodium, fat, and calories, however they are also high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

  • When buying canned meats, choose low fat and low sodium options whenever possible. Also, avoid any rusty or dented cans.

Other Considerations

  • Note: The Canadian Cancer Society warns against consuming processed meats, which are linked to colorectal cancer.

  • “Best Before” dates or “durable life” dates measures the food quality only, not the food safety. It’s safer to buy and use canned goods at least 3 months before their expiration date, if they have one.


A recipe on an Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag episode called for SPAM, but we wanted to know how it stood up to the rest of the canned luncheon meats on the market, so we took a selection of canned meat hors d’oeuvres to a local hangout and asked 100 people to help us with a taste test. The brands we tested were:

  • SPAM: $4.60/340g

  • Safeway Luncheon Meat: $2.83/340g

  • Swift Prem Pork Luncheon Meat (Maple Leaf): $4.59/340g

  • Klik Ready to Eat Luncheon Meat (Maple Leaf): $4.69/340g

Taste Test

Our 100 testers didn’t hold back the colourful descriptions!

  • SPAM: “tastes more like meat to me, might be the best”
  • Prem: “smells like dog food”
  • Safeway: “mushy, salty”
  • Klik: “worst after taste”


After 100 testers tried our 4 luncheon meats, SPAM took down the competition “whole hog”. SPAM Sliders go on the menu!


Some products & services provided to
Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag ep. 68 courtesy of:

Maple Leaf

top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter