Q: In cleaning out an elderly relative’s home we found several sealed buckets of dry wheat labeled 1974. What should we do to get rid of these? They sound like the contents are dry, but I’m afraid to open them. Should I call a Hazmat team?
Answer: If the buckets are sealed and the contents are still dry, there is no need for Hazmat! Dry grains will keep for centuries, so 40 years is nothing to them.
Assuming that when you open them you do find that there is no mold, you could just go ahead and use them. If (as I’m guessing) you don’t want to use them, you could put the grain in your compost pile, use it to feed the birds, or just put it in the garbage. If the birds scatter some around the yard, they might still sprout and give you some lovely green grass for awhile.
Just being old doesn’t make them unsafe. Mold would, but if you can hear dry grains sloshing around in the buckets, they’re probably not moldy. It won’t hurt anything to dump the grain into the garbage, either bagged or loose.
Mary A. Keith, a licensed dietitian and health agent at Hillsborough County Extension, can be reached at email@example.com.