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Shelf Life and Dating of an MRE

By kenneth casquejo October 19, 2020


The majority of our meals are made within 60 days prior to shipment and are kept under climate controlled conditions while at our facility. You can find the date your meal (Entree) was made by looking at the coded numbers on the MRE meal pouch itself. The number will look something like 20001. The first two digits designate the year of production. The next three numbers signify the day of the year the MRE was made. For example, a number 20001 would have been made on January 1, 2020 and a number of 19365 would have been made on December 31, 2019.

The shelf life of the MRE primarily depends upon the temperature at which they are stored. As you can see in the chart below if the meals are stored at a temperature of 80°F / 26.7°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.

Shelf life and dating an MRE | 

This shelf life chart shown above 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 on some of the components. 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. However, you may notice different dates on the entrees. This is because we produce a number of main entree menus - Beef Stew, Chicken with Rice, and others. The entree varieties are manufactured at differing times throughout the year. An entree in inventory may be 2-4 months old and some may be 2-4 weeks old. The small date differences between entree varieties does not effect 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 90 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 meals. This label/date enables you to easily track the shelf life of your MREs.

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