MRE Shelf Life
“I’ve eaten everything from one month old MREs to 11 year old MREs. While I haven’t been brave enough to try the 10 year old Omlette with Ham, I have tried the 11 year old corned beef hash and the 11 year old ham slice/potatoes au gratin. They were both perfectly yummy…”
Thanks to MREInfo for these answers on MRE shelf life.
MRE Shelf Life
So you have an MRE and you’re wondering…is this thing still good? Or you’re wondering…how long do these things last? There are official answers and there are practical answers. I’ll run through through the official answers real fast and then we’ll get down to some more practical answes (like taste-tests).
Officially, how long MREs last depends on how long and at what temperatures they are stored. At a minimum, they should last 1 month when stored at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Or they could last 5 years at 50 °F (10 °C).
Practical Life of MREs
Practically, the darn things last a long, long, time. As long as the individual MRE components aren’t damaged, punctured, (or SWELLING!!), they should still be edible. Some people (on usenet) say that an MRE may lose its flavor or turn an unappetizing color but will still retain all the nutritional value. But other people will say the nutritional value decays over time. Take your pick of opinions. If you want to really be safe, don’t base your nutritional health on 10-year old MREs. But for occasional eating/camping/etc you’re probably ok.
But how do they really taste? I’ve eaten everything from one month old MREs to 11 year old MREs. While I haven’t been brave enough to try the 10 year old Omlette with Ham, I have tried the 11 year old corned beef hash and the 11 year old ham slice/potatoes au gratin. They were both perfectly yummy (if you like those kinds of foods). The ham slice was nice and tender – more like Hormel’s Tender Chunk Ham. The corned beef hash was like any can of corned beef hash I’ve ever eaten. All the other MRE entrees I’ve tried – from 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 have all been good – no sort of off-flavors or bad tastes.
But other MRE components might not fare so well over time. Two examples spring to mind: the cheese spread and the applesauce. The DSCP (defense supply center philadelphia) did some time/temp testing on these two items and were kind enough to provide the following pictures:
Click Here to See the Images and Learn More