How long is a MRE good for?


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I had some old civilian MRE's from Sopakco and decided to eat them and get some newer one's. The date code was 9208, which (I thought) was 2009, 208th day, or July 27, 2009.

After enjoying my meal of Beef Ranchero with beans, Apple sauce, Crackers and grape Jelly, and pound cake (I am full), I started to think more upon the pack date above. I may have made a mistake.

I realize now that these MRE's were given to me shortly after Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, not 2009. This means I just ate a 23 YEAR OLD MRE!!! and it tasted fine and I am not sick after 4 hours. The only thing I did not eat was the grape jelly, as the pack was leaking from being crushed under other supplies.

Does anyone know how long these things actually last as the date is the packing date, not the expiration date. When stored at 70 degrees, a military MRE says it should last for 66 months, but is that a BEST IF USED BY date, or an actual expiration?


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Well, there are a few factors that come into play. Time, temperature, and how much nutrient vs filler value remains after the length of time.

Obviously, the cooler you store them, the longer they last. In Iraq, we'd have brand new cases that would be "bad" after a week due to the extreme heat...ate 'em anyways.

That's a good website.

It used to be that MREs stored at 60 degrees or below would last a decade or more, but that's when they were packaged with a lot of freeze dried components.

The chart on that website says if it's stored at 70 degrees (roughly room temp) then it's only good for just under 4 years. I disagree with that. If it's stored in a constant, cool temperature, out of direct sunlight and remains sealed, it should last for that decade. Although, after that length of time, the nutritional value may have decreased (some people say the exact opposite, though). Some of the sides, like cheese or peanut butter, may discolor or have a change in consistency...I'd avoid that. If MREs are in a "Stockpile", you may supplement them with multivitamins.

Bottom line: If there is no swelling, torn packaging, you should be good.

I've got a few cases and I plan on keeping them for quite a while.


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Sounds about right,

The Beef Ranchero Entree was still what I would call "Tasty" and "Filling".

The Tabasco bottle was brown so I did not use it.

The Apple sauce was a bit dark but smelled and tasted as I felt it should. Ate it up.

The pound cake was very dry, ate it anyway but had to drink a lot to get it down.

Crackers were also dry, but then they are supposed to be. Would have been better with the jelly, but . . .

The Jelly was leaking, I assume it was due to compression in my emergency supplies container. Did not eat that either.

It is nice to know that these things last this long. Note, these were not military MRE's, but the civilian package.


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I've got a case that I've had for about 6 years now, still sealed. I've always heard they were good for 10 years as well. I'll save mine for the apocalypse. :lol:


Nice info 11B3!! I ate some of the earlier mres that came with the cook kit when I was in boy scouts and enjoyed them. I have heard that some of these new longterm food companies have improved on the longevity and tastiness of the foods you can gwt. My only other experience is with Wise Foods who sent me a free meal pack and catalog. They are a lot more expensive than the $25 crate mres you can find all over the internet but it's supposed to last 25 years if stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight.


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Some of the freeze dried meals aren't a bad option if you can find them on sale like the 7 or 30 day buckets. Only bad part is some require reconstituting with boiled water. MREs, while some entrees can be slimy when cold, can be consumed without taking away froma vital water source if water is not in large supply.


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This was a long time ago, and my memory is bad....

A friend was in the Air Force. He got me some MRE's from off the emergency supplies on the planes. They had to rotate then out ever so ofterm. He got me a couple of cases of the old ones...

It seems like then they rotated them every 5 years. These were the ones in the Emergency life rafts on board the planes...and, they all came in neat re-usable water tight containers...



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I've got some early 90s MREs, and I've been eating the occasional one hiking since 2000 or so. Probably not as nutritive as they used to be, but I do heat them up over a stove (not the silly warmer) and never gotten sick from one. Stored cool, but not cold. I think sealed, they will be safe to eat more or less forever but may not have the 5000 calories you're expecting. Still pretty tasty depending on choice.

Except the omelet. F#ck that noise.

I've also eaten C-rats that were from the 60s? in the early 90s as well (was a rough time to be poor) and as long as the can wasn't swelled, no problems.

Fun point of fact: The Tabasco, when oxidized enough to turn brown, is stupidly hot. As in one little bottle in a whole pot of chili.


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Man...we ate all those C-rations we could get our hands on...We would take them on fishing trips...

Everyone laughed about the 3:00 in the morning those were great....
They were all good. I even got a couple of old medicial bags...but, they took all the good drugs out of them first. I carried one in the back of my truck for years...



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Not sure about MREs because I never dealt with them but in 1972 we were eating C-Rats that were packaged in the forties.
Everything was decent but the cigarettes were a little stale.


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About six or seven years if kept in a cool dark place.

The problem isn't just spoilage; these foods tend to lose nutritional value over time. So the food may be edible but you're not getting much good out of it.

The best bet is to rotate your MREs every five years or so. Either use them up (camping, hunting, travel, etc) or donate them to a food pantry and replace.
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