How Long Do MREs Last? – A Survivalist Guide

Having an MRE is quite important, especially in these times of uncertainties. It can become your lifeline once disaster and emergency situation strike.

MRE or "Meal Ready to Eat" is a comprehensive food supply package that a person can consume once the regular access for foodstuff is not available. It can be said that one MRE represents a single meal. Therefore, having three MREs signify that you satisfy the prescribed three meals per day regimen.​


However, do you know how long do MREs last? You see, these items are still food. Regardless of the flashiness of coolness of their names, MREs are still susceptible to spoiling. If you don't watch out, there's a good chance that you can consume a spoiled or expired MRE.

To prevent this thing from happening, you should be aware of the lifespan of an MRE. Of course, there's a science behind this, and there's always an estimate to the shelf life of MREs. Continue reading to find out.​

How Long Do MREs Last​?

Technically speaking, the lifespan of an MREs is quite dependent on how they were stored. It is still similar to other food items and ingredients in your home. Therefore, you should always practice proper storage to further extend the lifespan of the MRE.

If the MRE is stored at a room temperature of 49 degrees Celcius (or 120 degrees Fahrenheit), it can last for one month at most. If you lower the temperature for like 10 degrees Celsius (or 50 degrees Fahrenheit), they could last for five years.

Take into account the shelf life of MREs are being constantly updated. The most common MRE lifespan chart that can be found on the internet today was made around the 1980s. This is the first era where MREs was released on the market. Their ideal storage temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In such condition, they can last for 130 months or around ten years.

The first batch of MREs features a lot of frozen and dried components. That has resulted in their extended shelf life. However, this kind of production was eventually stopped for health reasons. Military, paramedic, and emergency personnel are no longer old versions of MREs as there are newer and safer ways to manufacture them. Therefore, you can say that the 1980 MRE shelf life chart is no longer updated.

On the other hand, the MRE shelf life that I indicated in the previous paragraph was taken from a data that was developed in 2010. You can freely rely on them.

Time And Temperature Indicators Of MREs​

It is notable that the cases used for packing MREs have time and temperature indicators or TTI. The latter is placed on the exterior part of the container so that quality inspectors can examine if the MRE is still safe for consumption or not. Specifically, the TTI has two components: an inner circle and outer circle.

If the inner circle has a lighter coloration than the outside circle, then the MRE is still safe to consume. But if it is otherwise, then I recommend that you should not use the MRE anymore. That reminder is for your own safety. For now, the TTI indicator is one of the foolproof ways that determine the quality of the MRE.

I have heard several survivalists who claimed that MRE could last for three years if you store them on ordinary room temperatures (around 80 degrees Fahrenheit). Some, in fact, has told that MREs can endure ten years of storage if you store them on the ideal conditions. However, these things are still subject to discussion. For now, you must rely on the official information regarding the lifespan of MRE.

Actual Lifespan Of MREs​

When it comes to practical applications, it is safe to say that modern MREs has a long lifespan. They are made to last long, and they can further serve you if you store them properly. You just have to secure that all of the components of the MRE are not damaged. Even a damaged case can drastically affect the freshness of MRE.

Once stored properly, the flavor and taste of MREs can be retained. But on the other hand, some people suggest that the tang of MREs gradually decreases over time, even if they are not damaged. As a matter of fact, some said that the nutritional contents of MREs would be gone if you store them for an extended period.

However, experts told that this should not be the case, especially if MREs have been stored properly. But to be on the safe side of things, I do recommend that you should not use old MREs. Just replace them from time to time to ensure their freshness and quality.


Knowing how long MREs last is an important aspect for survival. Since these rations are crucial during emergency situations, it is imperative that you can secure their quality. It is a bad thing if you consume a spoiled one.

Overall, the importance of an MRE is undeniable. It is one of the things that you should include in your camping checklist, especially if you are venturing unfamiliar and dangerous terrains.

That's it for now. If you have some questions or suggestions, feel free to ask me in the comment section below.​

How Long Do MREs Last? – A Survivalist Guide
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