I got to thinking lately about the shelf life of mass-produced food, following a conversation on the ASFS listserve - indestructable twinkies and Otis Spunkmeyer muffins. I realized there has been a plastic bottle of coke on a shelf in my office for 7 years. I bought it when I first started doing a big food history course, and we got to the topic of high fructose corn syrup, long commodity food chains, mass production and so forth, so I bought this by way of illustration. It's been there ever since.
I think it's fair to say that Coke does not have a long shelf life. Notice how you can almost see through it now, and how the plastic bottle is slowly imploding. I think this kind of PET bottle (basically polyster) is supposed to leach arsenic or something into the bottle if kept too long, so I'm assuming this is now poison. So modern mass produced food can stay on the shelf for years in some cases, but this may be just as scary - what resolutely should not stay on the shelf. But I'm sure it sometimes does. Glad I don't drink the stuff, unless with rum of course.