Are the MREs Airdropped into Gaza Still Good?

The short answer is maybe. The long answer is that it depends on a variety of factors.

Valentine Wiggin
2 min readMar 7, 2024

Recently, the US airdropped food into Gaza, but this aid came in the form of MREs that were made in 2016. In the video above, one man says “It’s not halal” as he watches another person examine the contents of the MRE. This particular MRE contains dairy-based protein powder, mango-peach applesauce, elbow macaroni in tomato sauce, and a small bottle of visibly discolored Tabasco sauce. Many netizens said that these MREs were expired and couldn’t even be used properly due to the lack of clean water in Gaza.

MREs are typically intended to last for long periods of time. When stored at room temperature (around 60°F), they typically last for 3–5 years or longer depending on the meal. However, when stored at warmer temperatures such as those encountered in desert environments, they should be consumed within a month.

Individual meal components can vary in how long they last as well. For example, cheese and fruit-based sauces tend to deteriorate quickly, especially at high temperatures, while others, such as cakes and crackers, can last for 10 years or more. Despite being able to last this long, however, eating MREs that are more than 5 years old is not advised.

Since no one knows the storage conditions that these MREs were kept in, an online MRE calculator can provide an estimated expiration date for any MRE that was manufactured less than 10 years ago. If these MREs that were airdropped into Gaza were kept at 60°F, these MREs would have an estimated shelf life of around four years. However, when stored at 80°F, that shelf life gets cut down to 3 years.

The Tabasco sauce in these MREs is also visibly discolored. It looks like a dull pale translucent orange instead of the familiar fiery red color we see in typical settings. This sauce can be consumed safely months or even years after its expiration date due to its high acidity and preservative content. However, expired Tabasco may have a subpar flavor. The small Tabasco bottles also indicated the age of these MREs as some veterans have recognized them from their time in the US military.

At best, airdropping expired MREs into Gaza is insulting and at worst, it can lead to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Without plumbing or clean water, food poisoning an wreak havoc on this vulnerable population. Starvation, malnutrition, and dehydration are common issues in Gaza already; an outbreak of diarrhea and vomiting will make things worse.

While the MREs airdropped into Gaza may be technically safe to consume, a wealthy and influential country like the USA has the power and resources to give these people aid that isn’t nine years old. Many netizens have expressed dissatisfaction at the US’s actions and highlighted the hypocrisy of the US sending aid while it sends weapons to Israel. Others said that those in Gaza should be grateful for the aid, even if it could potentially worsen their situation by causing outbreaks of illness.



Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her