National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Food – Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’S)

NFES Number: 
Storage and Shelf Life Checks: 
Storage and Shelf Life Procedure: 
Storage and Shelf Life Checks How long MREs last depends on how long they are stored and at what temperatures they are stored. At the least, they'll last 1 month at 120 degrees F. Or they could last 60+ months at 50 degrees F.

Initial Inspection/Disposal Criteria

  1. Receipt inspection: Verify shipping carton for marking of MRE meals. The carton must show the following data:
    N (National Stock Number)
    Item Nomenclature
    Wt. _______ Cu_______
    Contract No. ______________ Lot No._________
    Name and Address of Ration Assembly Contractor
    Date packed
    ITD Inspection test date
    Fresh – Check Indicator
  2. Expiration of MRE meals will be based on a US Army food service inspector’s evaluation.
  3. The Fresh-check Indicator may be used for field inspections.
  4. Return to stock if MRE’s are in original unopened carton packaging, have no indication of damage, and are within expiration dates indicated on outside of carton.
  5. There are no refurbishment procedures for this item.
  6. Dispose of all loose, partial, or open MRE meals, and all unmarked MRE meals or meals not in original carton packaging.
    1. The meal will be removed from its container and rendered unusable and placed in a wet-garbage container.
    2. The water activated Flameless Ration Heater, for heating the MRE entrée, will be removed from its packaging and placed in a metal pail with enough water to submerge and deactivate. It may then be disposed of in your local landfill.

Refurbishing Procedures

A. Cleaning

  • Dust or wipe down outer carton.

B. Repair

  • none

C. Testing/Retesting

  1. Inspect container for proper marking.
  2. Look for container damage, insect or rodent damage, product leakage, and foul odor. If damage is found, follow Initial Inspection/Disposal Criteria.
  3. Mark case/pallet with next inspection test date if no damage found.
  4. Extension of Expiration Dates requires US Army Food Service Inspector’s evaluation.

D. Repackaging

  • Label appropriately and store accordingly.

Time/temp chart provided by the manufacturer:

MRE Shelf life graphic. Months from 1-60, temperature from 0-140.

Since about 1997, MRE cases have also included something called a TTI (time and temperature indicator) on the outside of the box to assist inspectors in determining if MREs are still good. There are two parts to the TTI - an outer dark circle and an inner light circle. As long as the inner circle is still lighter than the outside circle, the MREs are supposed to be good.


MRE time-temperature indicator graphic showing what the dot on the label should look like. MRE temperature button showing an actual TTI button where the inner circle is lighter than the outside circle.




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