The Shelf Life of Bottled Water
Bottled water is a great way to stay hydrated, but do you ever wonder how long your bottled water will last? You’re not alone. In fact, many people stockpile bottled water in case of an emergency—and even keep it at home as a regular part of their everyday life.
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The shelf life of bottled water is not regulated by the FDA and doesn’t have an expiration date—though some bottled water companies may choose to add one due to concerns about taste or odor. However, the plastic that bottled water is packaged in (usually polyethylene terephthalate for retail bottles and high-density polyethylene for water cooler jugs) does deteriorate over time and can contaminate the water once it’s tipped past its expiration date or exposed to excess heat.
But don’t be afraid to drink your water past its expiration date as long as it’s stored in a cool place. Ultimately, it’s the plastic that goes bad—and it can also cause the water to grow mold or algae, which isn’t good for you.
In fact, the best way to ensure your water is fresh and free of bacteria and contaminants is by storing it in a cool, dry, and dark location away from direct sunlight. If you’re unable to store your water in a cool and dry place, then the IBWA recommends keeping it in the refrigerator to help keep it safe and odor-free for as long as possible.
If you have a reusable bottle, you should fill it up before your water hits the two-year mark and then store it in a cool, dry place for at least a week. After the expiration date, you can reuse the water but be sure to refill it with new water from a clean source.
It’s important to note that a lot of bottled water manufacturers still add fluoride to their water, so if you are concerned about that, contact the bottled water manufacturer to find out exactly how much is in the water and what the dosage is. Some states require the amount of fluoride added to bottled water to be listed on the label, while others don’t.
The shelf life of bottled mineral water is longer than flavored or sparkling water, which has a shorter shelf life than distilled water or purified water. Most mineral water has a recommended shelf life of up to 5 years, but it is still good for about 20 years or more when stored properly in a cold, dark environment.
Why does bottled water has an expiration date?
In 1987, New Jersey became the first state to pass a law that required all food products to have an expiration date—including bottled water. The idea was to make it easy for consumers to know when their product had expired, Mental Floss says. But in the end, it wasn’t really a cost-effective way to keep track of how long water was in supply.
While the water inside a bottle will eventually expire, if it is stored in a warm and dark environment, it can be safe to drink. Likewise, it’s best to avoid leaving your bottled water in the car for a day or more, as this can lead to chemicals leaching into the water from the plastic container, Williams says.