The shelf life of the MRE primarily depends upon the temperature at which they are stored.
If the meals are stored at a temperature of 80 degrees F/26.7 degrees C the current shelf life chart shows they will last a minimum of 36 months. The lower the storage temperature, the longer the shelf life. You can go to the manufacturer website and click on the link across the top titled MRE MEALS.
This shelf life chart was designed by the US Army research and development center (NATICK) using a taste panel made up of “average” people, which were actually office personnel working at NATICK. Their opinions – based solely on taste – were combined to determine when a particular component, or in this case the entire MRE ration, was no longer acceptable.
If your MRE Complete Meal Unit (“Unit”) is over the shelf life date, then they cannot be thoroughly relied upon to taste “fresh”, however NATICK determined that while there may be a degradation of taste and flavor, the nutritional content and basic product safety would extend much further. Therefore, even after the expiration of the MRE according to the shelf life chart, at least some of the items included within the Unit could still be worthy of use, keeping in mind some of the components may expire sooner than others.
We are packaging MREs on a daily basis and always send brand new MREs with the entire shelf life available to you. Your MRE cases will have a label with the manufacturing date on it.
The small date differences between entree varieties does not affect shelf life as the entree itself, out of all of the food components in a complete meal MRE, will last the longest. The entree is packaged in a high barrier tri-laminate aluminum film and level of production insures sterilization.
The additional components within the complete meal are also normally produced within 30 days or less of their packaging date. The packaging date will be shown on the information label, which is on the outside of every case of MRE STAR meals. This label/date enables you to easily track the shelf life of your MREs.