Dented cans have long been a source of confusion and concern for shoppers. They may be discounted and seem like a good deal, but some of the items in those dented cans may not be safe to eat. Damaged cans may be harboring food that contains botulism and other toxins. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Services, if a can of food has a small dent but is otherwise in good shape, the food should be safe to eat. However, deeply dented cans should be discarded. Dented cans of food that are safe will have smooth dents or dents that are not on the seams of the can. A person should avoid sharp dents, dents in the seam and dents where the seam and the can meet. In addition, if the can is bulging or swollen, it should be avoided. Dents in a seam can let in air and bacteria. Deep dents may have left pinholes where bacteria can enter. When in doubt, avoid dented cans.