The shelf life for meals, ready-to-eat (MREs) is somewhat of a mystery. Do they ever expire? How can you tell? Is it in the taste? (What taste?) All joking aside, these are valid questions.
The Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Troop Support Subsistence oversees military rations. They have a webpage with MRE info here:
The shelf life of an MRE is 36 months (3 years) when stored at 80º. MREs don’t have expiration dates, but rather inspection test dates (ITDs). If an MRE is nearing its ITD, contact your local public health command food inspectors to see if the shelf life can be extended another six months.
For questions, contact DLA Troop Support Subsistence at:
And for more info on MRE shelf life, you may also find this commercial site helpful. It includes an MRE date code converter:
Make sure to enter the date code on the MRE to find its date of manufacture.