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I know that the manufacturer will say that they are good for "X" amount of months, but does anyone really know for sure just how long they will last before going bad?

I swear I was eating C-Rats from the late 40's and early 50's in 1971. But, I have little knowledge on the shelf life of MRE's.

I intend on buying some to have on hand, but I have no idea how many I can safely buy because I do not know how long they will last on the shelf before going bad.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I have some MRE meals that are 6 years old and still edible.

But for more sure shot long term storage I have Freeze dried meals in #10 cans that have a 35 year storage life.
 

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More info

last year I consumed some of the mre's that i put away from my service in the mid 1980's when my boss Ronald Reagan was our commander ! I am still alive but I sometimes eat some very different (strange) stuff.growing up Euell Gibbons was one of the men I understood because he new about my favorite subjects FOOD ! some of the mre food was at least 25 years old. now the trioxane fuel bars did not survive when I opened them no bar left just some powder in the foil I do not know why the broke down but they did. any one know how long trioxane is good for ?

NRA LIFE MEMBER

U. S. ARMY VET
 

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Be careful with MREs. Your garage is a TERRIBLE storage place for food, as it gets too hot.

Link to MRE data page





Shelf life is dramatically reduced when you get the MREs even a bit hot. I had some a few years ago that were three years old, but had been in my garage the whole time. They were NOT fit for consumption anymore, and I've got the gut of a billy goat.
 

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When the Apocalyptic Divorce first kicked off I had to raid my stash for a couple of months while recovering from the ambush, and lived off of MRE's for two months after evacuating the kill zone. GI8GI7

Started with the oldest ones first (about 12 years) and had no problems. Kept them stored in a closet. Temperature stability is everything when it comes to extending shelf life.
 

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Be careful with MREs. Your garage is a TERRIBLE storage place for food, as it gets too hot.

Link to MRE data page





Shelf life is dramatically reduced when you get the MREs even a bit hot. I had some a few years ago that were three years old, but had been in my garage the whole time. They were NOT fit for consumption anymore, and I've got the gut of a billy goat.
+1 on all of this.

The Govt stockpiles MRE's in temperature controlled storage, and monitors the shelf life. They assume that when MREs are pulled out of storage and shipped to a combat zone, they will be eaten within days of their arrival. A pallet of MREs does not sit in the sun for years in a combat zone. More like a few weeks maybe.

Even with that, during Desert Shield we had a certain lot of Chicken ala King that had gone bad in storage, and put a lot of guys in the hospital. They had to recall the whole batch and noone ate Chicken ala King if they wanted to live. GI8

Also, this is something that bugs me about MREs... you get into the whole "milspec" debate again. US Govt MREs are milspec. That means they are made a certain way, packaged a certain way, and stored a certain way. And the whole process is inspected and monitored.

Most of the MREs you find on the open market are not milspec. Sometimes the seller will claim they are, but they are not, unless they were stolen. They will be meals that LOOK like an MRE, sometimes sellers will even say they "come from the same manufacturer as military MREs" but they are not milspec, meaning you have no idea how those meals were prepared, packaged, and stored. Did those meals spend their life in a Govt temperature controlled storage facility under Govt inspection, and subject to periodic sampling and testing? No...

Buyer beware.
 

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I can verify that heat will kill the shelf life. All my closets around the house have buckets in them (wheat, etc) so I put a 30-day supply of MREs out in the garage about 5 years ago.

Today I pulled a few samples out of the MREs. I nibbled on a few items and nothing killed me, but it's obvious that the 90 and 100 degree temps have done a job on these. Everything looked and tasted funny. Even the lemon energy bars had turned green. I'm tossing everything but the electrolyte drink mix. How bad could Kool-Aid get?
 

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Back when I went hiking in Yosemite in '97 I had an MRE from 1983. Beef brisket I think it was. Very salty and I could have sanded down my M14's stock with it but I lived to tell the tale and didn't get sick.
 

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I've had a container full of field stripped MREs that I brought back from field ops over the years. Yesterday I opened a main meal of chicken tetrazzini from 2000/2001 that's been sitting in non climate controlled areas from Hawaii, San Diego, and now Blackbeard's old haunts. Looked and smelled like it should, tasted kinda wierd though. I haven't had an alien bust out of my chest yet. Probably just got lucky with how it turned out.
 

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Ditto on the heat. Iraq and the Stan you had to check the lot dates since any MRE's older than 2 years went **** up. Mainly the main meal and the goodies. store then in a cool dry location.
 

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I remember eating MREs from the 90s during basic training back in 06 and we were all fine. As long as it's stored properly, I think they'll be fine for a fairly long time.
 

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Long enough to still taste like sh*t every time you open one DI2
 
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Swings in temperature can cause problems in foodstuffs. I believe most commercial foodstuffs have an expiration date and that's a legalize-type thing (yes, Twinkies certainly expire). If you eat something after the date, they aren't liable if you get sick, kind of thing. There are factors that go into it and I think for the most part they are generous dates and assume some fairly bad environmental conditions, like milk is almost always viable a day or two after the posted date >IF< it is refridgerated the entire time.

But if you're keeping stuff in your trunk or garage, that may actually be worse than any extremes they are required to test against. It's in their best interest to set that date as narrow as possible as it reduces their liability and makes people restock more often (though it does hurt them when you're comparison shopping).
 

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I was told 7 years when i was in if stored at room temp. but I don't know for sure
 

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Be careful with MREs. Your garage is a TERRIBLE storage place for food, as it gets too hot.

Link to MRE data page





Shelf life is dramatically reduced when you get the MREs even a bit hot. I had some a few years ago that were three years old, but had been in my garage the whole time. They were NOT fit for consumption anymore, and I've got the gut of a billy goat.
Right on 2/75th........
This is his answer, the chart of temperature vs. time, that is.

Trouble is, depending on where you get the MREs and their date of manufacture, prior to your getting them, you don't know where they have been or under what conditions they were stored.

If the date is fairly current and you are keeping them in a cool place chances are you will get 4+ years. If the bag isn't violated and doesn't have a bad smell, they are almost certainly edible. However, they can be edible and yet have little or no "food value" as that deteriorates over time.

I have plenty of room in my fridge so I keep 7 days worth (of entrees and some sides) in the bottom of the fridge. They don't even know long those will remain good. I've also considered getting one of those small freezers (for less than $200 new) and packing it with entrees and sides....they might last for more years than I'll last!
 
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