Extended Meal Storage and Shelf-Life
We receive a large number of questions and calls dealing with the shelf-life of MREs. It seems that there is a common perception that MREs have a shelf life that is much longer than they really do. Some people have quoted us shelf-life figures for MREs at eight, ten, or even 12 years. That’s just not the case.
It is due to the widespread use of an outdated and obsolete shelf-life and storage temperature chart published and shared by some MRE web retailers and aficionados on the internet. This historical chart was, in fact, originally created and published by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. That is the organization responsible for the development of Meals, Ready To Eat (MRE) Field Rations, in 1980. However, this chart does not accurately reflect the shelf-life of the food found in modern MREs, as a Natick spokesperson shared with us:
We developed the shelf-life and storage guidelines almost 30 years ago to chart accelerated shelf life and taste tests that were conducted on the first generation of MRE Rations, which, at the time, were primarily dehydrated and freeze-dried food products. The chart does NOT apply to the retort pouch technology used for the modern generation of MREs.
On their current website, The U.S. Army Soldier System Center – Natick states, The MRE’s shelf life is three years at 80 degrees F and six months at 100 degrees F.” The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) echoes the same statement on their website, stating, “The shelf life of the MRE is three (3) years at 80 degrees F. However, the shelf life can be extended through the use of cold storage facilities prior to distribution.”
In comparison, the shelf-life of our HeaterMeals 3 Self-Heating Meal Kits, and HeaterMeals EX Self-Heating Entrees both matches, and in the case of HeaterMeals EX, surpasses the shelf-life of commercial MREs. HeaterMeals 3 has a shelf-life that is up to 3 years, and HeaterMeals EX is Designed for EXtended storage up to 5 years, both based on the production date.
The shelf-life chart found at HeaterMeals.com details the expected shelf-life in months of HeaterMeals entrees served in both trays and pouches. HeaterMeals EX entrees are served in a high barrier, flexible 4-layer foil pouch. Our meals are cooked, sealed in the pouch, then heated again under pressure to assure a safe, easy-to-store meal. The result is EXtended Storage without refrigeration and a ready-to-eat meal which retains its natural moisture, texture and taste.
In addition, HeaterMeals offer exceptional taste, and nutrition. Compared to Commercial MRE Rations, HeaterMeals 3 Meal Kits provide more Protein and Fiber content than Commercial MREs, yet HeaterMeals 3 Self-Heating Meal Kits have less fat and cholesterol, no trans fat, and 38% less sodium content. Every HeaterMeals serves a 12 ounce main entree which is 50% larger than that of the 8 ounce Commercial MRE Ration Entrees.