Your Guide to Long Shelf Life Foods: 20+ Staples That Will Last for Years

Have you ever opened a bag of your go-to treat only to find it’s lost its crunch all too soon? Or have you caught yourself trying to figure out how to make your shopping dollars stretch a little further when it comes to your kitchen staples? Trust me, I’ve walked that path.

But, guess what? After spending some quality time with tried-and-true pantry hacks, I’ve discovered some seriously long-lasting food essentials that are absolute game-changers. Get ready for this: my guide is packed with 35 incredible items that keep their cool for an impressively long time—we’re talking years! So, if you’re looking to give your pantry a durable and dependable makeover, let’s get started on this exciting journey.

Key Takeaways

Some foods like powdered eggs, jerky, canned meats, and dried pasta can last for years when stored properly in cool and dry places.

Long shelf life items like rice can stay good for up to 30 years, while protein bars and honey don’t spoil easily either.

It’s important to keep food in the right conditions – sealed tight away from heat and moisture – to extend its shelf life.

Simple pantry staples such as beans, oats, vinegar, maple syrup are both cost-effective and durable over time.

Fresh vegetables like potatoes, onions and garlic have a surprisingly long shelf life if stored correctly.

The Importance of Proper Food Storage

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Storing food right is a big deal. It keeps our eats fresh and tasty for longer, which means we waste less and save more cash—especially when inflation’s got prices jumping through the roof.

But here’s the thing: even though a can of tomatoes or bag of rice might sit on the shelf for ages without going bad, they could start tasting funky or lose some good stuff like vitamins if we don’t store them right.

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So yeah, I’ve seen how sometimes food that’s been sitting around tastes like it’s been hugging metal or plastic too closely. Odd taste doesn’t always mean the grub’s gone bad, though.

Get this – companies today are on top of things with fancy gear to check if food’s got weird bits in it before it reaches my pantry. TDI Packsys—they’re one of those heroes making sure our chow is free from stuff like metal shavings or tiny pieces of plastic.

Pretty cool, huh? We get to enjoy peace of mind along with our quiet night, munching on snacks that won’t surprise us with any unwanted crunches!

The Importance of Long Shelf Life Foods

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Long shelf life foods are like treasure in your pantry. I can just grab them when I’m hungry or busy and don’t have time for a grocery run. Think about it, having canned soup or beans means you can whip up a meal whenever.

And let’s not forget the money part – buying food that lasts saves cash in the long run, especially with prices jumping around.

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Now picture this: a storm hits, and you can’t get to the store. If you’ve got foods that last a long time on hand, you won’t worry so much about what to eat. Jerky or dried fruit make great snacks without needing a fridge.

Plus, bringing along nuts or protein bars on camping trips is super smart – they’re light to carry and keep me full out there in the woods! So yeah, keeping these kinds of food nearby is really clever for everyday life and those ‘just in case’ times too.

Protein Sources with Extended Shelf Life

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Oh, the joys of protein that just won’t quit! Talking about a real game-changer for my fellow carnivores and plant-based buddies alike – dive into this treasure trove where jerky isn’t just a snack-it’s an investment.

Curious? Keep reading, and I’ll let you in on all the secrets to keeping your muscles fueled for years, literally!

Powdered eggs

Powdered eggs are a game-changer, guys. Fresh eggs might not last long in the fridge, but these dried wonders can sit on your shelf for years—up to 2–5 years unopened! Imagine that.

You’re craving an omelet or need to whip up some pancakes, and you’ve got no fresh eggs in sight. No problem! Just grab your stash of powdered eggs.

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Don’t worry about cracking shells or whether the eggs have gone bad. Once you open them though, use ’em within four days; just like real ones, they won’t stay good forever once they hit the air.

Now let’s talk jerky—it’s next on our list for protein that keeps and keeps….


Hey, let’s talk about jerky. It’s a tough, dried meat that can last up to two years if you keep it sealed and stash it in a cool, dark spot like your pantry. Pretty amazing for something that doesn’t need refrigeration, right? Now, if you make jerky at home—kudos to you!—just remember it won’t hang around as long; eat it within a few weeks.

Jerky is awesome because it packs loads of protein, making it the perfect snack when I’m on the go or when I want something meaty without having to cook. Plus, with a shelf life of about a year for most types out there, I can stock up without worrying about wasting food or money.

Whether I’m hiking through the mountains or just too busy to whip up lunch—it’s like my dependable buddy, always waiting in the wings.

Canned meats

I always keep a stash of canned meats in my pantry. You never know when you might need them, right? Think tuna, beef, spam, and chicken—all packed and ready to eat whenever hunger strikes.

And the best part? They last for years! No worries about rushing to use them before they go bad.

These cans are lifesavers for emergency situations or when I’m too busy to cook up a meal from scratch. Plus, they’re an easy way to add some muscle-building protein to my diet without fussing over fresh meat that spoils quickly.

So whether it’s whipping up a quick sandwich or adding heft to salads and soups, canned meats have got me covered.

Long-lasting Canned Items

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Hey folks, let’s talk about the unsung heroes of the pantry that stand the test of time—those trusty canned goods we often overlook. Picture this: it’s years from now, zombies have taken over (kidding..

or am I?), and you’re rummaging through your cabinets for something still good to eat. That’s when you’ll tip your hat to past-you for stocking up on cans upon cans of nourishing fruits, veggies, and other staples—because they’re not just emergency bunker food; they’re weekday lifesavers when time’s tight, and you need a quick fix!

Fruits and vegetables

I know how it feels wanting fruits and veggies to last just a little longer. That’s where canned goods come in handy! Canned pineapple, for example—keep that on your shelf, and you’ve got yourself 12–18 months of tropical vibes without worry.

And hey, don’t forget about tomatoes. Whether it’s canned tomatoestomato sauce or paste, they’re all champions at hanging around in your pantry.

Then we’ve got pickles—talk about longevity! Those tangy treats can stick with you through thick and thin. Store-bought or homemade, pickled vegetables are not only delicious side dishes; they also bring that much-needed crunch to your plate whenever you need it.

Next time you’re at the store—or maybe when you feel like doing some DIY canning—you’ll know these are good picks for keeping that kitchen stocked up right.


Beans are awesome for guys looking to stay fit and save a buck. They’re packed with protein and perfect for beefing up soups and hearty chili dishes – that’s muscle food without breaking the bank! You’ve got two main playmates here: canned beans, which are ready to jump into action straight off the shelf, and dried beans.

Those dried buddies? With some care, they could outlast your favorite pair of jeans. Just seal them up tight in a cool spot, like say a pantry or root cellar.

Let’s talk quick meals after those long workdays. Grab some canned beans; they’re convenient as heck! Toss ’em into Mexican dishes like burritos or tamales for an easy fix that’s both tasty and nutritious.

Or maybe you’re planning your next camping trip – don’t forget to pack these bad boys! They’ll fuel all your wild adventures without fussing over an expiration date. Trust me, whether it’s lentils in your spaghetti sauce or black beans on taco night – these legumes have got your back..and they’ll stick around longer than most things on the internet!


Soup’s a champ in the pantry game. Those cans just chill on the shelf, waiting for you to crack ’em open and heat ’em up—boom, instant dinner. Canned soups are a no-brainer for keeping food ready, especially when life throws curveballs at you.

They’re perfect for those times when cooking feels like climbing a mountain, or when everything else fresh has waved goodbye.

And hey, they’re not just about saving your bacon during emergencies; they also come in handy for quick meals that don’t break the bank. Plus, if you’re playing chef and making your own soup or chili masterpiece, canned beans are there to back you up with their nutrition and flavor.

Trust me; it’s good to have these guys on your team. Next thing on our list? Rice—a serious contender in the long shelf life showdown!

Staple Foods with Extended Shelf Life

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Who doesn’t love a good pantry raid, right? When you peek into those shelves, you want to find foods that are ready to go—no matter if it’s for an impromptu midnight snack or a survivalist scenario (hey, you never know).

That’s where staple foods with an extended shelf life come in clutch. We’re talking the MVPs of your kitchen storage that stand the test of time… and let me tell ya, they can withstand almost anything! Now grab yourself a bowl because we’re about to dive deep into these trusty edibles that’ll stick around longer than that unread email sitting in your inbox.


So, rice is like a superhero in my pantry. It can last up to 30 years if I keep it sealed tight and store it where it’s cool and dry. Pretty amazing, right? And because rice doesn’t go bad quickly, I always make sure to have plenty around for emergencies or just those nights when I need to whip up something quick.

I love how rice can turn into all sorts of meals. Whether it’s the star in a hearty dinner after hitting the gym or playing backup in some tasty side dishes—rice has got my back.

Just remember though, even though rice hangs around for ages, its taste and nutrition might change a little over time. But hey, that’s normal for most foods we keep stored away!


Just like rice fills you up and keeps for ages, pasta is another champion in the pantry. You can store dried pasta for up to three years—talk about a win! All you need is an airtight container and a cool spot in your cupboard.

It could be spaghetti night any time, or if the mood hits, toss it with whatever sauce you’ve got lying around. Pasta’s not just for emergency times, either; I mean, who doesn’t love a good pasta dish on a regular weeknight? Versatility is its middle name—it plays nice with meatballs, dances well with veggies, and even gets cozy with just cheese and pepper.

Keep some handy, and you’re all set for loads of easy-peasy meals that won’t let hunger hit hard.


So, I’ve got these oats sitting in my pantry, right? They’re like the unsung heroes of long-lasting foods. Seriously, if you keep them sealed up tight in an airtight container, they’ll stick around for years – we’re talking 2 to 5 years of shelf life! Now that’s what I call getting your money’s worth.

Here’s the kicker – oats aren’t just for breakfast. Oh, no. You can toss ’em into all sorts of recipes. Oatmeal is just the beginning; think cookies, breads, even as a crunchy topping on your favorite casserole.

Plus, they pack this awesome fiber punch, which totally fits with keeping things healthy. Honestly, having oats on hand means you’ve always got a solid base for tons of meals ready to go.

Baking Essentials with Long Shelf Life

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Hey, my fellow kitchen warriors and bread baking buffs! When we dive into the world of baking essentials with marathon shelf lives, we’re not just talking flour power… (wink) – these are the trusty sidekicks that’ll stick around long enough for all your impromptu midnight cookie cravings or those spontaneous weekend pie projects.

Trust me; you’ll want to keep reading to become a pantry-prepping guru with ingredients that won’t quit on you when you need them most.


So, you’ve got a bag of flour tucked away in your pantry? Smart move. Flour is the backbone of so many good eats—bread, cakes, even thickening sauces. It’s a champ at sitting tight on a shelf for a long time if you keep it cool and dry.

Now, I like to think ahead, and having flour on hand means I’m ready for anything from surprise guests to those times when the weather has other plans.

You ever use that FoodKeeper App from USDA? That thing’s handy to make sure your flour still hits the mark before you whip up some pancakes or thicken gravy. Just because something sits well doesn’t mean it stays perfect forever.

Over time, flour might lose its pizzazz—that means flavor and nutrition could dip a bit. But hey, keep it sealed right and check on it every now and then; it’ll be one less thing to worry about when prepping for emergencies or saving bucks during inflation spikes.


Moving right along from flour, let’s chat about another baking must-have: cornstarch. You’ll be glad to know this stuff can hang around forever if you keep it dry and cool. Think of it like that trusty old tool in your shed – always there when you need it.

And speaking of needs, who doesn’t want their sauces and soups to have that smooth, thick texture? That’s where cornstarch shines! Just scoop some out of its original container – yep, keeping it in there helps a ton with shelf life.

I bet you’ve used cornstarch before, without even thinking about how long-lasting and handy it is. Tossing it into an airtight container takes its staying power up a notch. Sure, over time the quality might dip a little—maybe it won’t thicken as well—but hey, for something that sticks around for so long, I’d say we’re getting a pretty sweet deal (and not just because it’s good at thickening dessert fillings).

Keep an eye on your stash, though; once you notice any change in texture or effectiveness when cooking those mouthwatering dishes (hello gravies and pies), then consider grabbing a new box on your next store run.

Baking powder

Okay, let’s talk about baking powder. This stuff is a must-have in your kitchen, for sure. It helps make cakes and cookies rise, making them fluffy and awesome. But get this – it’s not just for tasty treats! Baking powder has some cool tricks up its sleeve; you can use it to clean around the house, fight off bugs, and keep things smelling fresh.

Now picture this: You’ve got a can of baking powder sitting on your shelf. Guess what? That little can could last pretty much forever if you store it right. We’re talking serious staying power here – ideal when you want to be ready for anything life throws at you.

So go ahead, grab a container next time you’re out shopping; add it to your stash of long shelf life foods – trust me on this one!

Long-lasting Snack Foods

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Alright, folks – let’s talk munchies. You know that moment when you’re ravenous, and the only thing in your pantry is a lonely can of green beans from 2011? No more! I’m talking about those snackables that’ll hang around longer than that gym membership you swore you’d use.

Let’s dive into the stash of snacks that won’t bail on you faster than a bad date… Stay tuned to find out what treats will keep your belly happy without throwing in the towel too soon!

Protein bars

I’ve got a secret weapon in my pantry – protein bars. These handy snacks are not just for gym buffs; they’re perfect when I run out of food or can’t cook up a big meal. They pack a punch with energy and nutrition, making them an awesome pick-me-up during busy days or after workouts.

Plus, they sit on the shelf for ages without going bad. I love knowing that even if everything else runs out, these little bars have got my back.

Stash them anywhere – your drawer at work, your car’s glove box, or in your backpack for those long hikes. And hey, let’s face it – sometimes we don’t want to whip up something fancy; we just need a quick bite that doesn’t kill the budget.

Protein bars to the rescue! Now let’s talk about dried fruit…

Dried fruit

So, after munching on a protein bar, let’s talk about dried fruit. It’s sweet and chewy—raisins and cranberries can sit on your shelf for over a year when you keep them sealed up tight.

Imagine tossing some into your morning oatmeal or mixing with nuts for a quick trail mix. That’s one tasty way to get those nutrients!

You’ll find that storing them in a cool, dry spot is key. They stay good quality, that way for ages! And hey, need something sweet without grabbing candy? Grab some dried mango or banana chips instead.

You’re getting natural sweetness packed with healthy stuff there!


Oh, let’s chat about nuts! These little guys are packed with good stuff for you. They’re like nature’s own candy bars but way healthier. Here’s the deal: they last super long if you keep them in a cool, dark place or even the fridge.

That keeps them fresh and stops them from going bad.

Guess what else? If your nuts come vacuum-sealed—that’s even better! The tight packaging keeps air and moisture out, so they stay crunchy and tasty for ages. Anytime I’m looking to munch on something quick that won’t spoil fast, I reach for some almonds or peanuts.

Plus, they’re perfect when you’re hiking or just need an easy snack at work.

Condiments and Sweeteners with Extended Shelf Life

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Hey guys, let’s talk about the unsung heroes of our pantries – those condiments and sweeteners that stick with us through thick and thin… literally. Ever noticed how a dollop of honey or a splash of vinegar can just hang out in your kitchen forever without causing a fuss? They’re like the loyal friends who’ve got your back (and taste buds), ready to jazz up a meal at a moment’s notice.


I love keeping honey in my pantry, and you should too. It’s like the superhero of sweeteners – it never goes out of style or spoils. Imagine this: you find a jar of honey that’s been tucked away for ages, and guess what? It’s still good! That’s because when you seal it up tight to keep moisture out, honey can last forever.

You get all the sweetness without any worry about expiration dates.

Storing honey is super easy. Just pop it in a cool, dark spot with a lid screwed on tight – simple as that. Over time, yeah, the taste might change a bit, but hey, this natural sweetener will always be ready to jazz up your tea or slather on some toast.

Remember those times after a hard workout when you need an energy boost? Honey’s got your back; just squeeze some into your drink and keep moving!


Moving on from the sweet stuff, let’s talk about something tangy – vinegar. This liquid is pretty amazing because it can sit on your shelf forever and not go bad. Yup, you heard that right! Whether it’s apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, both are champions at lasting a really long time.

In fact, they never seem to quit.

Now, you might think of it as just something to put on salads, but vinegar is super versatile. You can use it in marinades or as a zesty addition to homemade sauces. Plus, apple cider vinegar even has some health perks people rave about.

So keep a bottle handy in your pantry – those best-by dates have nothing on this powerhouse condiment. If you’re ever curious about how long other foods last, check out the USDA’s FoodKeeper App; it’s like having a food expert right in your pocket!

Maple syrup

Let’s talk about maple syrup, fellas. You buy it, pop it in the cupboard, and forget about it until pancake day rolls around. Guess what? It’s still good to go – that stuff can hang out unopened for ages.

Crack it open, and you can keep using that sweet goodness for up to a year if you stash it in the fridge.

Now, here’s the kicker: maple syrup isn’t just for breakfast treats; think of it as your secret ingredient. Sure, drizzle it on waffles or mix into oatmeal, but don’t stop there! Glaze meats before cooking or stir a spoonful into marinades.

Getting creative with long-lasting pantry staples like maple syrup helps me whip up awesome meals without always rushing to the store!

Fresh Vegetables with Surprisingly Long Shelf Life

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You know, fresh veggies don’t always go bad quick. Some of them like potatoes, onions and garlic can hang out in your kitchen for quite a while. Just keep ’em cool and dry, and they won’t let you down.

Squash, beets, carrots—yeah, those guys are also pretty chill about not rushing to spoil.

Ever tucked some radishes or beets in the fridge? They stay crisp and tasty for ages! Speaking of good storage, a dark pantry does wonders for lots of these veggies. Trust me—treat them right, and they’ll stick around longer than you might think.

Long Shelf Life Beverages

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Hey there, fellas—let’s talk drinks. Whether you’re holed up for a storm or just planning your next big camping adventure, knowing which beverages won’t bail on you after a few months is key.

Forget milk that goes sour faster than your mood on Monday; I’m diving into the trusty sips like instant coffee and that fine bottle of wine that’ll wait patiently for their shining moment.

Cheers to longevity!

Instant Coffee and Tea

I’ve got instant coffee and tea stacked in my pantry, and you should too! These lifesavers can last up to 25 years—imagine that. Just make sure to keep them dry and sealed tight.

They’re real champs for long-term storage or if an emergency hits out of the blue.

Not only do they save space because they’re light and compact, but a quick scoop also gives me that caffeine kick I need when I’m dragging my feet. Next time you’re stocking up on supplies, toss some in your cart; your future self will thank you.

Moving on from drinks like wine—you’ll find it’s another shelf-stable buddy worth having around!


Hey, let’s chat about wine for a sec. You’ve probably heard that some things get better with age, and guess what? Wine is one of those magical items. If you’re like me and enjoy a glass now and then, it’s good news to know red wine can hang out in your pantry for quite a while—say 3-5 years—and still be top-notch.

That’s if you keep it tucked away in a cool, dark spot.

So imagine this: You’ve had a long day or maybe there’s something special to celebrate..boom! You remember that bottle stashed away just waiting for the right moment. No need to dash out to the store; you’re all set with that smooth vintage saved especially for times like these.

Plus, having wine on hand means I’m always ready to cook up something tasty—a splash in pasta sauce or stew adds an unbeatable richness. Trust me; keeping proper wine stocked isn’t just fancy—it’s smart planning!

FAQs About Long Shelf Life Foods

What foods last a really long time?

Ah, the marathon runners of the food world! We’re talking about things like dried pasta, rice, and canned foods. These guys can hang out in your pantry for years without throwing a fit.

Can I still eat well when saving money during inflation?

Absolutely! Stash away staples like beans and whole grains. They’ll be your budget buddies when prices soar – good food doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!

Are there any treats that won’t spoil quickly?

Treat yourself to some dark chocolate or honey! They stay delicious for ages… not that they last that long around me (yum!).

How do I keep my cooking oils fresh?

Keep ’em cool and in the dark—like vampires but less scary—and choose ones with high smoke points, like coconut oil; they stick around longer.

What are some non-perishable flavor boosters I can use?

Spice up your life with vinegars, mustard, soy sauce – these zesty pals don’t spoil fast and make meals tasty in a snap.

Any tips for making perishables last when camping?

Sure thing! Opt for freeze-dried meals or beef jerky; they’re perfect companions for adventures under the stars—just add water, and boom: dinner’s ready!

Additional Long Shelf Life Foods

Grains and Legumes

  1. White rice
  2. Wild rice
  3. Basmati rice
  4. Quinoa
  5. Oats
  6. Dry pasta
  7. Lentils
  8. Dry beans (e.g., black, pinto, kidney)
  9. Chickpeas
  10. Split peas
  11. Barley
  12. Spelt
  13. Buckwheat
  14. Cornmeal
  15. Millet

Nuts and Seeds

  1. Almonds
  2. Walnuts
  3. Pecans
  4. Cashews
  5. Brazil nuts
  6. Hazelnuts
  7. Chia seeds
  8. Flaxseeds
  9. Pumpkin seeds
  10. Sunflower seeds

Dried Fruits

  1. Raisins
  2. Prunes
  3. Dates
  4. Apricots
  5. Dried cranberries
  6. Dried figs
  7. Dried apples
  8. Dried mangoes
  9. Dried cherries
  10. Dried bananas

Canned Goods

  1. Canned beans
  2. Canned corn
  3. Canned tomatoes
  4. Canned tuna
  5. Canned salmon
  6. Canned chicken
  7. Canned beef
  8. Canned fruit (in juice or syrup)
  9. Canned vegetables
  10. Canned soups and stews

Condiments, Oils, and Sweeteners

  1. Salt
  2. Sugar
  3. Honey
  4. Maple syrup
  5. Olive oil
  6. Coconut oil
  7. Soy sauce
  8. Vinegar (e.g., apple cider, white)
  9. Mustard
  10. Mayonnaise

Baking Essentials

  1. Baking powder
  2. Baking soda
  3. Cornstarch
  4. Cocoa powder
  5. Chocolate chips
  6. Vanilla extract
  7. Yeast
  8. Flour (white, all-purpose)
  9. Powdered milk
  10. Powdered eggs


  1. Coffee beans
  2. Tea
  3. Powdered drink mixes
  4. Cocoa mix

Snacks and Miscellaneous

  1. Popcorn kernels
  2. Beef jerky
  3. Hard candy
  4. Granola bars
  5. Instant noodles
  6. Rice cakes
  7. Peanut butter
  8. Almond butter
  9. Dried seaweed
  10. Bouillon cubes

Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Foods

  1. Freeze-dried fruits
  2. Freeze-dried vegetables
  3. Freeze-dried meals
  4. Dehydrated potato flakes
  5. Dehydrated soups

Spices and Herbs

  1. Black pepper
  2. Garlic powder
  3. Onion powder
  4. Dried oregano
  5. Dried basil
  6. Dried parsley
  7. Cinnamon
  8. Nutmeg
  9. Curry powder
  10. Chili powder


  1. Instant coffee
  2. Gelatin
  3. Pectin (for jam-making)
  4. Powdered cheese
  5. Powdered butter
  6. Hard cheeses (waxed or vacuum-packed)

Remember, the actual shelf life of these items can vary based on storage conditions, packaging, and specific product types. Always check expiration dates and store foods in a cool, dry place to maximize their longevity.



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Ben covers food and travel for Unfinished Man. He has spent years sampling flavors and reviewing restaurants across the globe. Whether scouting the latest eateries in town or the top emerging chefs, Sam provides insider tips for savoring local cuisine. His passion for food drives him to continuously discover new destinations and dining experiences to share. Sam offers travelers insightful recommendations on maximizing flavor and fun.

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