September 27, 2022

How Long Do MREs Last: When Does It Go Bad?

Table
of
Contents

Preparedness
is
key
to
survival
in
case
of
emergencies.
While
you
will
need
many
things,
one
of
the
essentials
is
food.
Among
others,
a
must-have
is
an
MRE
or
meal
ready
to
eat. 

Technically,
MREs
are
manufactured
only
for
military
ration.
Nonetheless,
many
companies
market
similar
products
to
preppers.
If
you
have
one
at
home,
you
are
probably
wondering


how
long
do
MREs
last?

The
lifespan
of
MREs
depends
on
several
factors.
You
can
make
it
last
longer
through
proper
storage
and
handling. 

Read
on
as
we
talk
about
its
shelf
life,
as
well
as
tips
for
making
it
longer-lasting. 


What
Are
MREs? 

MRE
stands
for
Meal,
Ready-to-Eat.
It
is
a
self-contained,
shelf-stable,
and
field-rationed
meal
in
lightweight
packaging
that
the
U.S.
Department
of
Defense
distributes
to
its
members.
When
a
regular
food
supply
isn’t
available,
such
as
on
battlefields,
MREs
save
the
day.
While
it
is
originally
for
military
use,
it
can
also
be
given
to
civilians
in
case
of
disasters. 

Accessibility
is
the
biggest
selling
point
of
MREs.
It
is
convenient
since
they
are
pre-cooked
and
packed
in
a
sealed
pouch
to
preserve
freshness
over
time.
This
is
similar
to
canning,
except
that
it
is
a
lighter
packaging
that
is
easy
to
use. 

In
a
typical
MRE,
you
will
find
almost
everything
that
you
need
for
a
filling
meal.
It
has
an
entrée,
side
dish,
bread,
spread,
dessert,
seasoning,
and
even
sweets.
Utensils
are
also
included
in
the
package. 

Take
note,
however,
that
it
is
illegal
to
resell
MREs
that
are
made
for
military
consumption.
Nonetheless,
you
can
now
find
many
civilian
versions
at
online
shops.
They
are
similar
to
military
MREs,
except
that
they
are
made
by
private
companies
instead
of
the
government
and
are
meant
for
public
consumption. 


How
Long
Do
MREs
Last? 

MREs
do
not
have
a
definite
shelf
life.
The
expiration
depends
on
many
factors,
with
the
most
significant
being
the
storage
condition.
The
temperature
has
the
biggest
impact.
If
you
want
it
to
last
longer,
then
store
it
in
a
cool
environment. 

On
average,
an
MRE
can
last
up
to
five
years
if
you
store
it
at
75
degrees
Fahrenheit.
However,
if
you
store
it
in
a
cooler
space,
then
the
shelf
life
can
extend
up
to
10
years.
It
can
even
last
up
to
20
years
in
ideal
conditions.
On
the
other
hand,
if
it
is
hotter,
specifically
when
the
temperature
is
120
degrees
Fahrenheit,
an
MRE
won’t
last
more
than
one
month. 


How
to
Tell
If
MRE
Has
Gone
Bad 

expiration date of the mre bag

The
best
way
to
check
if
an
MRE
has
gone
bad
is
to
look
at
the
date
stamp
on
the
packaging.
However,
unlike
conventional
packaged
food,
MREs
do
not
typically
have
a
stated
expiration
date.
This
is
because
it
has
an
indefinite
shelf
life
that
is
dependent
on
its
storage. 

Instead
of
having
the
expiration
date
stated
on
the
packaging,
what
you
will
most
often
find
is
the
manufacturing
date.
However,
MREs
do
not
have
the
conventional
format
stated
as
date,
month,
and
year.
You
will
find
several
numbers
and
codes,
and
you
must
know
what
they
mean. 

Many
MREs
will
have
what
is
called
the

Julian
date
.
The
first
digit
is
the
last
digit
when
the
MRE
was
manufactured
or
packaged.
Meanwhile,
the
next
three
digits
represent
the
day
of
the
year.
For
instance,
if
you
see
5175,
then
it
means
that
it
was
made
in
2015.
175,
meanwhile,
means
that
it
was
made
on
the
175th
day
of
the
year
out
of
365.
Meaning,
the
manufacturing
date
was
June
24,
2015. 

In
older
MREs,
you
will
find
a
time
and
temperature
indicator
or
TTI.
It
is
a
small
sticker
that
indicates
freshness.
It
has
a
larger
circle,
which
is
usually
black
or
maroon.
The
inner
circle
has
a
lighter
color.
Once
both
circles
have
almost
the
same
color,
take
it
as
an
indication
that
the
MRE
has
already
passed
the
shelf
life
that
the
manufacturer
recommends. 

Aside
from
the
manufacturing
date
and
time
and
temperature
indicator,
below
are
other
indications
that
an
MRE
has
gone
bad. 


Damaged
Packaging 

To
extend
the
shelf
life
of
MREs,
it
has

vacuumed-sealed
packaging
.
This
protects
it
against
external
elements
that
can
speed
up
spoilage.
When
it
has
a
tear
or
any
other
visible
damage,
it
is
best
to
avoid
eating
it.


Food
Looks
Spoiled 

Once
you
open
the
MRE’s
packaging,
take
a
closer
look
at
the
food.
If
it
has
significant
discoloration,
do
not
eat
it.
Some
can
also
develop
molds
and
other
tell-tale
signs
that
it
is
no
longer
good
to
eat. 


Rancid
Smell 

Even
if
the
food
looks
good,
it
does
not
instantly
mean
that
it
is
safe
to
eat.
Smell
the
food
to
see
if
it
is
spoiled.
There
can
be
a
rancid
smell
or
foul
odor,
which
is
another
indicator
that
it
is
no
longer
fit
for
consumption. 


Making
MREs
Last
Longer 

MRE
is
a

survival
food
item
with
long
shelf
life
,
but
below
are
some
of
the
best
practices
for
MRE
storage
to
make
it
longer-lasting
and
ensure
its
peak
quality
even
through
the
years.


Keep
It
Cool 

The
most
common
culprit
for
MRE
spoilage
is
heat.
Watch
out
for
the
temperature
in
its
storage
space.
Keep
it
in
a
cool
and
dry
place.
Even
if
it
is
made
to
have
tough
packaging,
significant
heat
can
result
in
deterioration.
The
cooler
it
is,
the
longer
the
MRE
will
last. 


Do
Not
Freeze 

While
we
recommend
storing
the
MRE
in
a
cool
space,
freezing
it
can
do
more
harm
than
good.
Freezing
can
cause
the
packaging
to
deteriorate
since
the
contents
can
expand.
When
this
happens,
it
is
prone
to
penetration
of
external
elements
that
speed
up
spoilage. 


Keep
Away
from
Sharp
Objects 

If
possible,
store
MREs
only
with
similar
items.
Keep
it
away
from
knives,
scissors,
or
any
other
sharp
objects
that
can
tear
the
packaging.
Even
the
slightest
prick
can
damage
the
packaging
and
spoil
the
food
quicker. 


Consume
Once
Opened 

MREs
can
last
a
long
time
once
they
are
in
sealed
packaging.
However,
as
soon
as
you
open
it,
the
shelf
life
is
similar
to
any
other
food.
Open
the
packaging
only
once
you
are
ready
to
eat.
Consuming
it
immediately
guarantees
its
freshness. 


FAQs


Can
you
eat
expired
MREs? 

Technically,
yes,
you
can
eat
expired
MREs.
However,
it
is
best
to
do
so
only
if
you
have
no
other
option.
Also,
pay
attention
to
the
physical
condition
of
the
packaging
and
the
food
before
its
consumption.
If
it
is
highly
evident
that
it
is
already
in
poor
condition
or
if
the
food
no
longer
looks
and
smells
good,
then
do
not
eat
it. 


What
happens
if
you
eat
MREs
past
their
shelf
life? 

In
most
cases,
nothing
will
happen
to
you
if
you
eat
expired
MREs.
They
are
made
to
last
a
long
time,
so

food
poisoning

is
unlikely.
Expired
MREs
may
have
a
negative
impact
on
taste
and
nutritional
value
but
seldom
on
their
safety.
Nonetheless,
if
it
was
exposed
to
external
elements,
such
as
heat
and
humidity,
then
the
effects
can
vary
from
one
person
to
another. 


Final
Words

MREs
have
a
long
shelf
life,
which
depends
on
their
storage
conditions,
specifically
the
temperature.
If
it
is
at
75
degrees
Fahrenheit,
it
can
last
up
to
five
years.
In
a
cooler
environment,
it
will
stay
good
for
up
to
ten
years.
Meanwhile,
when
it
is
hot,
it
can
last
only
for
one
month. 

Original Source