I was wondering if MRE's do go bad after a certain amount of time? Also, are there any conditions that MRE's should NOT be stored in, such as in the hot sun? I know they are meant for the situation, but there are always extremes.
yes they go bad. And NEVER EVER let them even get so much as a pin prick hole anywhere in the packaging. The smell of rotten MRE's is not something I'd ever want to experience again. I worked in the veterinary corps when I was in the Army and we had to assist in the inspection of multiple cases of MRE's that had come back from the Gulf. ( early 1990's) I was a veterinary technician working on animals and cross training with the food inspectors. Let me tell you that skunks and week old road kill in southern AZ in the summer have NOTHING on the smell of a box of rotten MRE's.
Over 110 degrees, such as in your vehicle, MRE's are only good for one month. The cooler they are stored, the longer they will last. Do a search for MRE shelf life and I'm sure you'll find a chart showing how long MRE's will last when stored at different temps.
Here's video proof of how MRE's fared in a high heat environment over the long term.
It's nothing in this area for it to get to 110 in the summer for a week or more. By the gubmint charts all these MRE's should have been inedible about 10 years ago. There's some fruit cocktail from 95 in there. Stored in Florida and in Georgia, either in garages or outside metal buildings.
Yes, you SHOULD store your food in better conditions if you can. When it gets to be more than just a couple cases of this and that, storage space becomes an issue.
I worry a LOT less about temperature in storage than I used to. 22 years of storing food has taught me that many of the commonly held and repeated "truisms" in storing food AREN'T.
I concur with the above... the current food storage guidelines are for the most vulnerable among us... the elderly and infants, and infirm... who cannot stomach even a low amount of bacteria or spoilage, whereas a healthy adult can eat a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.
And as a long-time user of MRE's (since the mid-80's) I can attest that even some of the archive bits in my storage are edible, if not entirely pleasant, loooong after their published shelf life.
So what is it that causes the MRE's to "go bad" is it a break down of the food particles inside through a chemical process or do bacteria infect the interior somehow (I thought was impossible due to MRE's being gamma radiated or whatever to kill it)
What causes them to go bad is the nutritional worth starts to degrade. Vitamins lose their potency and minerals react with others to render them neutral. They can be edible for many many years, but then again so are Twinkies.
A big part of your food storage should be multivitamins, B12 and Vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C should be in 1,000mg and 3-4 of these a day should be taken IMO.
In addition, with any luck you'll be growing some food also, the fresh veggies are going to give you good enzymes and fresh vitamins and minerals. Even just sprouting some of your stored wheat and lentils will give you good amounts of vitamin C and some fresh "roughage" that your system needs.
In addition to the vitamins losing their potency, the proteins begin to break down. You're still getting calories, but you may not be getting the nutrition you need in the long haul. A bottle of multi-vitamins is cheap insurance along with rotating your stock. I also store and rotate a fair amount of fruit juice, which would hold out for a few months. Beyond that, I have a couple cans of tang and "emergen-C" packets. The problem with most vitamin C tablets is that air and moisture quickly start to break it down. As soon as you open the bottle, they start to degrade. On the other hand, if you've stored mung beans and alfalfa seeds, fresh sprouts are a great source of vitamin C and a tasty way to get away from packaged food, even in the dead of winter. I think buying a 25 pound bag of mung beans and breaking it down into 1 pint paint cans (with mylar bag liners and oxygen absorbers, of course) is a great way to ensure good year-round nutrient rich food.
Nutritional value is gone in best conditions in less than seven years. In 120 heat they are gone in thirty days. You can still eat them. They just have no nutritional value at all. MRE meals are meant to be used quickly in the field.
Look on web for military chart showing shelf life of MRE. GB