Temperature is the most important factor in lengthening the shelf-life of your MREs. The standard MRE shelf-life is five years, assuming it is stored at 55°F. The table on the right shows how a higher temperatures translates to a shorter MRE shelf-life. Temperature should be a priority when choosing a spot to store your MREs-make sure they’re in a cool area.
Cool, but not frozen. When your MREs freeze, the packaging can actually break. This is especially true with repeated freezing and unfreezing of MREs-the expanding and contracting of the contents can stress pouches to the point of failure. Just avoid freezing MREs if you can. If you’re absolutely determined to freeze your MREs, know that they’ll require careful handling to ensure the packaging isn’t damaged.
If your MRE food pouches get punctured or damaged, it’s game over. If the pouch seal is punctured, the food ration is exposed to oxygen and bacteria, which will compromise its shelf stability and lead to food spoilage. So don’t store your knife collection on top of your MREs.
To protect your MREs and get the maximum shelf-life out of them, it is recommended that they be stored in a cool, dry environment that is inaccessible to rodents. Dry basements or cellars offer ideal conditions for MRE storage.
Why can I store MREs for such a long time?
MREs owe their impressive shelf-stability to the retort packaging process. The retort pouch is a made of a strong, layered combination of polyester, aluminum foil, and polypropylene, allowing it to seal the commercially sterilized food ration for long periods of time (USDA, 2012).
After food is sterilized, oxygen is sucked out of the package like a vacuum and quickly sealed. This process effectively locks out oxygen and bacteria.
3 tips for MRE storage:
1.) Keep your MREs in a cool area 2.) Keep MREs off the ground, away from rodents 3.) Don’t freeze your MREs
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