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Old 12-22-2010, 10:42 AM
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I've got a couple cases of MRE's from the early 80's. For emergency use, how important is the expiration on MRE's? Would the meal portion be spoiled?
Old 12-22-2010, 11:43 AM
booniestomper booniestomper is offline
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around 2000 i got some MREs from my grandmother that bought then from a mil surplus store in the 1970's. the peanut butter was still peanut butter just discolored. the peaches were still good. the crackers were a powder. chicklets were hard.
i ate the beef stew main meal packet. while tasting ok, it gave me intense stomach cramps for about 2 hours. i quickly regretted eating that packet.
so i think that MRE's go bad eventually but i ate beef that was alive when my parents were in junior high and im still ok.
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Old 12-22-2010, 11:50 AM
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A lot of it depends on how they were stored. I've eaten MREs that were just a few years old and not expired that were completely inedible other than some of the sides that fared better. MREs just don't have a really long shelf life, especially exposed to heat like mine were.

In the '80s some of the MREs had freeze dried meat. That should still be fine. And I'm sure some of the other components would be too, but I don't know which ones. I don't think I'd bother with MREs that old, to be honest. Especially after the experiences I've had with much newer ones that had gone off.
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:33 PM
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You can always try one. Our medics used to go through our expired lots every so often. They would pick a few out, try them. If they were still fine, they extend that lot # for another year. I don't know if they sill do, or are allowed to.

Ultimately use common sense. If your doubtful about the MREs, dont depend on them. Would be pretty bad if you really needed them, and ended up getting you sick and in a worse position than before.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:27 PM
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They should be fine and taste as good as MRE's taste. I remember when we transitioned from C-Rats to MRE's and some of the C-Rats we were eating at the time were well over 15 years old and it didn't kill me. LOL! The 80's menu's were not even close to what they menus are today. They didn't even have the heaters in the packets. We would just use a running engine or just eat them cold. But, I think that they will keep for a very long time. It is better than starving. Just sayin!!
Old 12-24-2010, 09:34 PM
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They should be fine and taste as good as MRE's taste. I remember when we transitioned from C-Rats to MRE's and some of the C-Rats we were eating at the time were well over 15 years old and it didn't kill me. LOL! The 80's menu's were not even close to what they menus are today. They didn't even have the heaters in the packets. We would just use a running engine or just eat them cold. But, I think that they will keep for a very long time. It is better than starving. Just sayin!!
The C Rats were canned and canned goods can last for decades safely. MREs aren't, and they can go bad after a while. I've had them go bad from heat exposure in a surprisingly short period of time, and I've heard from more than one person who has gotten sick on them, including someone in this very thread.
Old 12-25-2010, 12:14 AM
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Most of my MRE stash is GI from the first Gulf War period. The only ones that have looked questionable were the ones that stayed in my truck through a summer and when I rotated them out I tried some of them.

Jelly, crackers, main entrees and drink mixes were all fine but the koolaid tasted a little more vitaminy than I expected. Applesauce had turned quite brown and didn't taste real good. The cheese packet had separated into oily brown blobs but smelled fine.......I still didn't eat those. The date nut cake was a little crumbly and tasted great. Same with brownies. Oatmeal cookies were fine but since they're like particleboard, they're not likely to go bad anyway. Those are my favorite too.

None of the MRE's kept in cool storage had any problems at all.
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:15 AM
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http://www.mreinfo.com/us/mre/mre-shelf-life.html

This should help answer your question. And yes, storage conditions make a huge difference. Unless you buy an unopened case with the heat sensitive shelf life sensor intact, you have no way of knowing how they were stored.
Old 12-25-2010, 11:01 AM
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Very uselful info and thanks. I still have a case of unopened C-rats aswell. As an interesting side note, when I was a kid swimming in the ocean in So cal, I found a can floating in the waves. It was a tin of WW2 Nazi crakers and chocolate, complete with swastika. I took it on the beach and had a great snack! Too bad I didn't keep it but I was only 8 or 9.
Old 12-25-2010, 12:11 PM
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As a avid MRE guy, I use the tabasco bottle method if its dry or the liquid is clear it might be too old. Another way is smell, as was mentioned earlier in this thread the 80's MRE's had been freeze dried. The newer ones if they are bad you will know it as soon as you open the pack. I have NEVER EVER had a bad MRE some I thought may have been close to being bad.

For storage I keep them in my basement storage room and the older one I rotate into the freezer.
Old 12-25-2010, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by sandline View Post
Jelly, crackers, main entrees and drink mixes were all fine but the koolaid tasted a little more vitaminy than I expected. Applesauce had turned quite brown and didn't taste real good. The cheese packet had separated into oily brown blobs but smelled fine.......I still didn't eat those. The date nut cake was a little crumbly and tasted great. Same with brownies. Oatmeal cookies were fine but since they're like particleboard, they're not likely to go bad anyway. Those are my favorite too.

None of the MRE's kept in cool storage had any problems at all.
That's exactly what I run into with MREs that were exposed to heat. I get a lot of them that have come in from McGregor range after sitting in hot tents for a few years. Many of them are inedible in 3-4 years, other than a few components. Sadly, the entrees are usually the first to go.

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As a avid MRE guy, I use the tabasco bottle method if its dry or the liquid is clear it might be too old.
That's the method I use also. It's especially accurate for MREs that were exposed to heat, which I encounter often. I have yet to run into a bad MRE that didn't have a bad bottle of tobasco also. And I have yet to encounter a bad bottle of tobasco in a good MRE. So I think it's a good indicator.
Old 12-25-2010, 03:35 PM
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I will only use them if I have to. I would prefer to phase out other things. MREs aren't even that nutritious. It will be more work but drying will work. That and canned goods for fruit and vegis.
Old 12-25-2010, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHP1127 View Post
Very uselful info and thanks. I still have a case of unopened C-rats aswell.
I don't know how old those "C"'s you have are but during jungle training in Panama in 1971 I ate some from 1943 that were just fine (if you don't mind what they were like even when new). The ham, pork and beef all tasted like spam, but we never had any problems. Everything else in them was like any other "C"'s I ever ate. I think if you lived on those for long enough they could bury you after death with no embalming and you'd be mummified.
Old 12-25-2010, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Militant View Post
As a avid MRE guy, I use the tabasco bottle method if its dry or the liquid is clear it might be too old. Another way is smell, as was mentioned earlier in this thread the 80's MRE's had been freeze dried. The newer ones if they are bad you will know it as soon as you open the pack. I have NEVER EVER had a bad MRE some I thought may have been close to being bad.

For storage I keep them in my basement storage room and the older one I rotate into the freezer.
I never thought about putting them in the freezer. Great idea! I got some MRE's that are about eight years old and I am going to eat one and see what happens. If they kill me you guys can split up my gear. LOL! Also, your right about some of the menu's being freeze dried. I remember the pork patties and I still believe that they were styrofoam. But, we also had "LURPS" (LRRP) that were freeze dried. The strawberries and the ice cream would almost start a fight over. But, the rest of it was nasty. Anyway! I have never had a bad MRE, but am sure it could happen.
Old 12-25-2010, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandline View Post
I don't know how old those "C"'s you have are but during jungle training in Panama in 1971 I ate some from 1943 that were just fine (if you don't mind what they were like even when new). The ham, pork and beef all tasted like spam, but we never had any problems. Everything else in them was like any other "C"'s I ever ate. I think if you lived on those for long enough they could bury you after death with no embalming and you'd be mummified.
So if C-Rats could last 28 years why in heck do they put expiration dates of three or four years on commercially canned soups and other foods? Is it for purposes of taste or is there a racket going on to keep the production lines going?
Old 12-25-2010, 10:22 PM
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So if C-Rats could last 28 years why in heck do they put expiration dates of three or four years on commercially canned soups and other foods? Is it for purposes of taste or is there a racket going on to keep the production lines going?
Who knows? It's probably something from their legal departments. Though taste and texture will begin to degrade somewhere along the way. With the C-rats I doubt anyone would notice because they weren't all that good to start with. But the C-rats were also focused more towards long term storage and as such had less moisture and acids.

I figure a lot of the freshness dates on modern canned foods is mostly to keep people buying it. I don't know how many people over the years I've heard of who threw out canned foods because it was slightly past the date on the can. In my early ignorance, I did that myself more than once.
Old 12-25-2010, 10:33 PM
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Throw em out .....you wouldnt want your ancestors doing research on you and finding out you died from eating old rotten military rations. On the other hand your funeral will be full of laughter and remembered by all.
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Old 12-25-2010, 11:18 PM
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Some canned foods will go bad past their expiration date. One in particular is canned condensed milk. Also oil will go rancid, as will shortening in the can.

I did eat a can of c-ration chocolate cake back in the 70's that was3 years old and it was good. I still have a couple of cans in the basement somewhere. I should find one and see if it still is edible.
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