I recently had the opportunity to observe what happens when every rule of long term food storage is violated and the consequences there of. I pass my observations along to you. As we all know the cardinal rules of Long Term Food Storage are: Buy what you eat, eat what you buy and rotate stock. Store in a dark, cool dry place with proper packaging. Protect from pests. What I recently saw was a food storage area that was dark and damp with no ventilation or insulation. When I entered the room the reek of ammonia from mouse urine was so strong that it could not be entered again for several hours after the door was opened. Inside were stacks of plastic pails containing rice and beans with non locking lids, all covered with mouse droppings, that was not the worst part. There were two large wooden cabinets, on the shelf of the first was a cardboard box of grits, it had been eaten open and completely emptied of it’s contents. There were dozens of cans, mostly missing their labels due to the mice, some dozen cans of chili, another dozen of corned beef, tuna, fruits and veggies, all rusty due to humidity and urine. Two small cans had rusted through, it’s contents eaten by mice who latter moved into the cans and raised a family or more. The second cabinet held a large rodent nest, masses of canned goods on every shelf including bottled drinks, sauces, condiments, and several gallons of store bought wine, all stored in the vertical position. Despite being quite dark and cold the various drinks, condiments and wine had all changed color and ‘gone off’. On top of the cabinets cases of Ball Canning jars were stacked 4 cases of berry jam, and one case each of home canned smoked salmon and dill pickles. All the home canned products showed rust on the lids. There was mold growing inside the pickle jars and the jam was marked “No Good”, all were dated “1996” some of the commercial cans were dated 2004, most were older. In total there were enough canned goods to fill two 30 gallon trash cans, representing $1000 at todays prices. The dried foods in the 20 plastic tubs are deemed worthless as well (no date on tubs) but can be added to a friend’s compost bin. It is evident that there was a series of miss-steps that led to failure and the ruin of an otherwise sound food storage plan. #1 The owner did not eat and rotate the stock, the mouse infestation would have been noted early on and the home canned foods would have been saved from spoilage (all that salmon!). #2 The storage area violated all rules and common sense, the yearly freeze thaw cycles ruined the lid seals on the home canned foods and burst the seams of at least two cans in closet #1 as well as lifting the seals on bottled products. Storing a food product in a cardboard box simply provided mice with a safe haven for eating and breeding, especially since there was no attempt to control vermin. #3 None of the store bought cans or bottles were labeled w/date of purchase or contents to aid rotation. #4 Wooden cabinets allow rodents inside but kept cats out, sheet metal lockers or open shelving is superior. #5 Drinks in plastic containers were untouched by rodents but spoiled in storage, possibably due to repeated freeze thaw cycles. Meat products in tins/cans/glass were not attacked by rodents but any type of paper was gnawed/eaten. Most commercial meat products were low moisture and so do not show signs of swelling associated w/freezing but due to no MFG date and general condition of the other stored items will be used as bear bait. I believe this experience points to the importance of maintaining a food rotation system w/labeling and common sense storage as a key element in all LTFS systems. Use Gamma Lids on your bulk storage buckets!