How Long Do MRE Meals Last?
Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, are a popular and convenient option for those who need food on the go. They have been a staple of military life for decades, but they can also be used by backcountry hikers, campers, emergency responders and anyone needing an easy meal. But one of the common questions is – how long do MRE meals last?
The simple answer is that MREs last for 3-5 years when stored properly. This may seem like a short shelf-life for prepared meals, but the design of the packaging and preparation process allows them to stay safe for up to 5 years.
How Are MREs Preserved?
MREs are designed to provide optimal nutrition in extreme conditions, from freezing temperatures to intense heat. The package itself has several layers, which act as barriers to air, moisture and light that can speed up spoilage. Inside the outer pouch, each item is vacuum-sealed to maintain freshness while blocking out any bacteria or fungus.
While the packaging is designed to protect the food, some care still needs to be taken with storage. To ensure maximum shelf-life, the MREs should be kept in a temperature range of 60-70 degrees F (16-21 °C). If stored in cooler temperatures, such as in a refrigerator or freezer, the shelf-life will be extended significantly.
What Is the Shelf-Life of Refrigerated MREs?
When stored in the refrigerator, MREs can last for up to 10 years. This makes them a great option for long-term emergency supplies. However, if you want to take advantage of this extended shelf-life, it’s important to keep the MREs in the original packaging and out of direct sunlight.
It’s also worth noting that, even if the MREs are stored at room temperature, they will still be safe for consumption for up to three years. This means that, in most cases, you don’t have to worry about refrigerating your MREs and can just store them in a cool, dry place.
What Can Shorten the Shelf-Life of MREs?
One thing that can reduce the shelf-life of MREs is exposure to moisture. If water gets into the packaging, it can cause spoilage and render the MREs unsafe to eat. It’s also important to note that some foods in the MRE, such as cheese and other dairy products, require refrigeration and won’t last as long as the other items in the package.
Finally, if the MREs are exposed to high temperatures, their shelf-life will be reduced. While the packaging is designed to protect the food from extreme temperatures, if it gets too hot, the MREs can start to break down.
Are There Any Other Tips For Storing MREs?
To get the longest shelf-life possible from your MREs, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. First, make sure that all individual components are sealed tightly before storing them, as this will help keep out moisture and other contaminants. Second, store your MREs in a cool, dark place, such as a closet or cupboard, to avoid damaging them with direct sunlight.
Finally, rotate your stock of MREs regularly. This way, you’ll always have some that are close to expiring, so you can use them first and avoid wasting food.
MREs are a great option for anyone who needs a convenient and nutritious meal on the go. With proper storage, they can last for up to five years, and when stored in the refrigerator, they can last up to ten years. Just remember to keep your MREs sealed, away from moisture and in a cool, dark place to ensure they remain safe and tasty.