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Old 02-17-2012, 12:50 AM
GS455 GS455 is offline
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Default When do MREs Expire



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I bought several boxes of MREs from a buddy. Enough to feed my family of four for a month. I'm worried they might be expired but can't quite tell by the boxes. How long are these good for?
Old 02-17-2012, 01:20 AM
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Military ones don't have expiration date, only manufacture date code:

http://www.mreinfo.com/us/mre/mre-date-codes.html

http://www.thereadystore.com/emergen...2/faqs-mres-2/

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Old 02-17-2012, 01:36 AM
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From what I know they don't however they can be improperly sealed. I had a buddy buy a box and I bought one from him to try. The bread ended up being all moldy and nasty.
Old 02-17-2012, 09:24 AM
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I had some that I shlepped around and kept for about 15 years. Finally decided to open them up and see how they were. The "wet" foods were nasty, not really edible any more. The dry foods like the crackers, candy bars, and Chicklets were still good!
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Old 02-17-2012, 01:27 PM
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How long they last is heavily influenced by the temperatures they experience in storage. I've had them go completely inedible in 3 years when sitting around in desert heat conditions. In cooler storage, they last a lot longer.

For more info, check out www.mreinfo.com
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Old 02-17-2012, 01:28 PM
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Well as long as the Chiclets are good all is not lost.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:25 PM
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Just dont leave them in extreme heat or direct sunlight. DONT buy the cheap MRE's in the clear bags buy real ones.
Old 02-20-2012, 03:21 PM
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military one DO have an epiration date. Trust me. There is a date on the case at which thime they sneed to be checked. When the pouches are expanded out, thats a sign they have gone bad.
Old 02-20-2012, 04:38 PM
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If these are "real" MREs in the original boxes, there are a couple of things you can look at.

You can look at the date codes on the outside of the box and tell when they were manufactured and when they are supposed to be inspected/tested. Let's say you had a box that was made in 2001. It would have the manufacture date marked along with a lot number. Then it would have the inspect/test date stamped, three years after manufacture date. But that only tells you how old they are. There is another variable: heat. Heat is the enemy of food storage, and MREs in particular. Never store MREs in the attic or in an uninsulated garage where they can be exposed to heat for a long period of time.

The newer ones have a Time and Temperature Indicator (TTI) on the outside of the box. If the center of the circle is lighter than the outside ring, you are OK. If it's the same color, it's going to be iffy. If it's darker, then the MREs have been heat stressed or have been sitting around for a really long time. At that point, they are probably mostly shot.

I say "mostly" because some items in MREs seem to go south while some components seem to stay good forever. I've eaten crackers and peanut butter from MREs that were 20 years old and perfectly fine. When in doubt, open one up and give everything a good smell test. The cheese sauce, applesauce, and pears, in particular, will turn dark brown when they have been heat stressed. But even if they are bad, there may still be components in the bad MRE that are still good. Like I said, the crackers and peanut butter never seem to go bad. I've had good luck with the beef stew, escalloped potatoes and ham, and chicken stew lasting 18 years or more. It was still perfectly edible, and I ate it. Tasted like brand new.

Pay attention to leaky or bulging food pouches. This indicates something has gone wrong; either they were not sealed right or they have developed botulism. Discard these. Make sure you don't throw them away where animals can get to them.

There is no easy way to tell how long an MRE will last. It relies on the temperature they were stored at and the length of time. If they were stored in a very cold place, they could last at least a decade... or much longer. If stored in a hot place, they might only last months.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:44 PM
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Okay. I am on the road and I will take a pic of the case and post it. I bought four of them thinking I'd have a months worth of meals for a family of four if some short term disaster struck. But I haven't even broken open a case yet.
Old 02-20-2012, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GS455 View Post
Okay. I am on the road and I will take a pic of the case and post it. I bought four of them thinking I'd have a months worth of meals for a family of four if some short term disaster struck. But I haven't even broken open a case yet.
I'd love to see a pic of the outside of the box, showing the date stamps and lot number. We can tell you exactly when it was made.

It might be a good idea to crack open a case and see if they have the newer, tan pouches, or the older, dark brown pouches. If they are the older type, they are pre-1992 and should be considered to be a curiosity, not a serious emergency supply of food. Some of these sat around in the desert during Gulf War I and went around the bend due to heat stress. Unfortunately you can't tell without opening one of them up and testing it, since they didn't have Time & Temp Indicators back then.
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Old 09-13-2014, 04:48 PM
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I know this thread is old, but I found it in a Google search. I have eaten a 21-year old MRE. It was left over from a great uncle who served in the Gulf War and was shipping them overseas. It spent a few years in an outdoor shed, and its last year in my uncle's car as his GHB/vehicle bag emergency ration. We just ate it today, it was steak in mushroom sauce with "western beans," the crackers & peanut butter, slim jim, tootsie rolls, and everything was better-tasting than I ever would have expected a 21-year old MRE to be. Goes to show; if the seals are good and it smells good when you open it, you can eat it! I'm not sure if they ever go bad under the right conditions....I was concerned that it had been kept outside in a shed for a few years, but we're on Long Island in NY and it doesn't get too crazy-hot here, I guess it was fine! No ill effects
Old 09-13-2014, 05:00 PM
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Having eaten that generation of mre back when it was "fresh", I had to chuckle. Smells good should never be said of an mre. Haha! Be glad it wasn't omelet with ham.
Good to hear its shelf life is more suggestion than fact though. Maybe the cases I've squirreled away will last after all. :-)
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:38 PM
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Hah! Maybe it should be more like "doesn't smell spoiled." The taste wasn't *good,* either, but tasted better than the 2012 MREs I took camping that same year, and way better than I would have expected, considering the age. The heater worked way better than the new ones I've eaten, too. *shrugs* go figure. I didn't look up the recommended shelf life until after I ate it, which is probably a good thing.
Old 09-14-2014, 12:40 PM
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As some have stated, how they are stored is how long they last. Keeping in "a cool, dark area" they will last literally for many years.

Keeping them in the hot trunk of your car.... some menu items, not long at all.

For genuine US military mres, "Inspection dates" are three years AFTER the production dates. IE: 2/2016 inspection dates means they were produced in 2/2013. Look at the TTI sticker to see if it is still bright orange.
Old 09-14-2014, 01:24 PM
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That castle dude on Doomsday preppers made his sprog eat a 10 year old MRE. Sprog didn't die.
Old 09-16-2014, 03:10 PM
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MREs were never meant as a long-term survival item, nor are they particularly well-suited for that task.
They were intended as a stop-gap measure when in the field where hot chow wasn't readily available or a feasible option.

20-odd days of continuous consumption is about all that the human body can deal with.

There's a very good reason the acronym was often substituted to mean "Meals that Refuse to Excrete".
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan RoachCoach View Post
MREs were never meant as a long-term survival item, nor are they particularly well-suited for that task.
They were intended as a stop-gap measure when in the field where hot chow wasn't readily available or a feasible option.

20-odd days of continuous consumption is about all that the human body can deal with.

There's a very good reason the acronym was often substituted to mean "Meals that Refuse to Excrete".
They were also not designed for long term storage. They were designed to be shelf stable long enough to be able to keep a stockpile, ship them, sit around in theater until used, etc. But not sit in warehouses for decades like the old C-rats. And the newer ones don't last as well as the early ones did. They even adjusted the estimated shelf life accordingly.
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