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How Long Do MRE Meals Last?

Meals Ready to Eat, or more commonly known as MREs, are meals that require no refrigeration and are used by many military personnel. Since MREs come with a shelf-life of up to 5 years they can be an invaluable resource when there is a power outage or an emergency situation. But what are the factors that contribute to its long shelf life, and how long do MREs really last?

What Are MRE Meals?

MRE meals are packaged meals that contain all the necessary nutrients for one person's daily intake. They are made to provide energy for strenuous activities and come in a variety of flavors. There is also a wide selection of menus so that people who need them can find something that suits their taste.

The contents of the meal depend on the type of MRE. In general, a standard MRE will include breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks, desserts, and condiments like spreadable cheese, jellies, and crackers. Some MREs even come with drinks, instant coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

Because of their convenience and ease of use, MREs were designed as emergency rations for the military. They have since become available to the public as well, providing an easy to store and transport food source for outdoor activities like camping, hunting, and fishing.

Factors That Impact Shelf Life Of MREs

MRE meals don't require any cooking or refrigeration and can last up to five years if stored correctly. The shelf life of MREs depends on several factors including temperatures and storage conditions. Here are some things you should know about the shelf life of MREs:

  • Temperature: MREs are designed to tolerate extreme temperatures, but prolonged exposure to high heat can cause the food to spoil faster. It's important to store MREs in a cool and dry place such as a basement or garage at temperatures between 50°F and 70°F (10°C and 21°C).
  • Light Exposure: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the packaging of the MREs to degrade over time. Keeping MREs in a dark and dry place will help maintain the integrity of the packaging.
  • Humidity/Moisture: Humidity can cause the packaging to deteriorate, making it susceptible to contamination from outside sources. It's best to keep MREs away from areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms or basements.

How Long Do MREs Last?

Under the right conditions, MREs can last up to five years. However, many factors can affect their shelf life depending on the environment they are stored in. Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 100°F (38°C) or direct sunlight can reduce the shelf life of MREs significantly.

It’s important to check the expiration date printed on the package before consuming the MREs. If the date has expired, it’s best to discard the MREs and purchase new ones.

Tips For Storing MREs

Here are some tips for storing MREs to maximize their shelf life:

  1. Store MREs in a cool and dry place with temperatures between 50°F and 70°F (10°C and 21°C).
  2. Keep MREs away from direct sunlight or other sources of light.
  3. Avoid storing MREs in humid environments like bathrooms or basements.
  4. Check the expiration date printed on the package before consuming the MREs.
  5. If the expiration date has passed, discard the MREs and purchase new ones.

If stored correctly, MREs can be an invaluable resource during power outages, emergencies, or extended periods without access to a kitchen. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can ensure that your MREs stay fresh and edible for up to five years.

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