Monday , 20 May 2019

30 Year Shelf Life with Mountain House Pouches

30 Year Shelf Life with Mountain House Pouches

Recent news coming out of Oregon Freeze Dry, makers of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, states that shelf-life for their pouch product line is closer to a 20-30 year shelf life as opposed to the 7 year shelf life they have been claiming for a very long time.

At the 2012 Summer Outdoor retailer show (my friend got me in) I was able to find the Oregon Freeze Dry booth and ask some questions to the retail marketing manager Reiner Bohlen about the July 12, 2012 press release concerning a head to head shelf life test of Mountain House pouches versus Wise Food’s pouches.

In summary, the press release states that Mountain House pouch oxygen levels are 110% less than Wise Food’s levels. Wise Food’s pouches oxygen level was very close to the atmospheric level, meaning an opened pouch had similar oxygen levels.

As food experts state, oxygen is one of the main contributors to food rancidity, a damning indictment that Wise Food’s responded to a few days later. My summary of their response “our levels are not as high as you stated”. Nowhere did Wise Company publish data to back that claim or show any proof that the 3rd party test conducted by Columbia Food Laboratories was not accurate .

While talking with Mr Bohlen he did not veer off course from the message that the press release stated. Instead he took the opportunity to show me two new pouch filled bucket products they have recently started selling. The two buckets were filled with a variety of the Mountain House pouches. Nothing out of the ordinary, just pouches in a clear bucket.

Mountain House 30 Year old Pouch testWhat was exciting from our conversation was that from doing the tests of their product vs Wise Company, they also tested some 30 year old Mountain House pouch products. In a blind taste test, the 30 year old Mountain House pouched foods scored a 6.6 on a 9 point hedonic scale whereas the new pouch (the control in the experiment) scored an 8.6. There was only a slight drop off in taste from the 30 year POUCH!

For years preparedness minded people have been under the belief that #10 cans could reach the 3 decade mark but the pouches only 7 years (this is what Mountain House claimed). Good news is there is little to no difference now between buying the Mountain House mylar pouch food product versus the #10 can product. While there are certain benefits of one over the other, shelf life is no longer to be considered when looking at a #1o can versus a metalized food storage pouch bag.

Of course the other story to tell is that of Wise Company and the shelf life claim that appears to be unfounded (until they can claim otherwise). Hopefully you have not purchased much of their product yet. We are not a fan, we have tried it on several occasions and felt it was one of the more poor tasting options around. Yes it is cheap but in the end you get what you pay for and in this case a world of difference not only in taste but in how long the food will actually last.

[UPDATE 8/3/2014 – Mountain House’s official shelf life claim on their pouches has been raised to 10 years from 7 years. This is more of a “Best if Used By date” than anything else as they have tested 30 year old Mountain House to be safe and still very good tasting as you will read in the article above. In summary, these pouches when stored right can last 30 years.]


  1. OFDF/MH only claims a **12 year shelf life** on their website.

    I strongly suggest checking a primary source (like the company that makes the product) before making these kind of claims…. 30 years for the #10 cans? Yes. Pouches, not so much.

    • Re-read the article and you will see where I spoke with OFD (makers of Mountain House). They have done tests on their own pouches 30 years after the fact and the food was still good AND tasty (though that decreases some over time). They state 12 years (used to state 10 and before that 7 and before that 5) because they don’t want you keeping it that long and also they don’t know how customers are storing it. The pouches when crinkled create tiny pinholes in the layers of the pouch and air can come in overtime. They would much rather you buy and use the product then to store it away for decades.

  2. Hi Shawn,

    While we definitely would like folks to eat MH meals on a regular basis, whether camping, emergencies, or just busy week nights (they’re convenient!), the main reason we claim a 12-year shelf life is based on our definition of “shelf life”.

    Some companies use “will sustain life” as their definition of “shelf life”. Simply put, the product will still contain calories. Much like a bag of 25 year old chips will still contain calories. It’ll keep you alive, but you might not like it.

    We hold ourselves to a much higher standard. When we say “shelf life”, we mean that the meals will be virtually indistinguishable from new production.

    When we tested our 12-year old pouches last year, we found that they were virtually indistinguishable from new production, so we updated our shelf life accordingly.

    When we tested our 30 year old pouches, they were still quite good (better than some of our competitors’ new stuff, in our opinion), but you could tell a difference from our new production.



    • Good information Reiner. Maybe the industry will at some point adopt some new terminology to distinguish the difference. I for one have tried 30+ old Mountain House from a can. It came from a gentlemen in Kentucky who stored it in his attic! These were cans with no 02 absorber (likely nitrogen flushed) and the meals tasted pretty good. Had a stew and had Chili Mac. Didn’t get sick at all. The pineapple chunks were a little funky though. I am sure with new standards (better pouches and 02 obsorbers) that when today’s food is tested 30 years later it will perform even better.

      Thanks for reaching out. You guys make some good products so kudos to you. Wish all of the companies did.

  3. i had questions regarding the shelf life of your pouches. The ones I have are stored in plastic detergent containers. I live in the tropics and have had them for approximately (yikes!) 20 years! Your imput would be greatly appreciated!

    • Are you talking about Mountain House pouches? If so I would venture to guess they are going to be fine to eat. Humidity and high temps speed up the spoiling process so who knows. Of course Mountain House will play it safe and state their 10 year shelf life then mention that results may vary. It’s the safe thing for a company to do 🙂

      • I have some pouches shows to expire 2014,still good to hold on to?

        • If they have been stored in decent conditions I would imagine. I have had food WAY past expiration and it was fine. If I were you I would open one up and smell it and give it a good looking over.

  4. A dozen Mountain House pouches were left in a shed (hot in the summer, freezing in the winter) for 4 years are these still usable?

  5. Shawn,
    For the past few years, I have been buying the Costco Mountain House meals (13 pouches come in the box) every 3 months for emergency food storage. I have kept them in waterproof suitcases (sounds silly I know) but would love to know your opinion on correctly storing them to optimize ‘shelf life’. By the way, you’re not lying- they actually taste REALLY good! Beef stroganoff is my favorite and Breakfast skillet in a tortilla is very good also! Yes, my husband and I brought a few camping- had to try it 🙂

    Thank you Shawn!
    Havalah and Nathan

    • The biggest issue is getting them punctured or torn which is why a lot of companies sell pouched meals in plastic buckets. The buckets do nothing for shelf life except for they protect the mylar bags from being punctured or torn. Waterproof suitcases arent a bad idea if you are in an area with flood risk potential.

  6. I have dozens of these meals purchased back in 08 and 09. Most say they expired last year. Based on this information, is it safe to say they are still good, assuming no punctures, for another 5 years?


  7. I bought a lot of MH cans back for Y2K and really glad to see the ex date has been raised. I store all my food in my basement where it is cool so that also helps.

  8. I am an outdoor adventurer love hiking and camping. The Mountain House meal pouches introduced to me at REI in 2009. Got some for the trip and had left over and forgotten in the garage.

    No doubt, the Mountain House is the best among the dried packed food, and have the shelf life for longer than seven years. I just consumed the chicken Polynesian pouch for my emergency lunch, and it was good like day one. Well past the best serving dated by in 2010, now 2018… I will get more for whatever reasons.

  9. Over all, they stored very well them? I’m renting a place that has a storage unit set at 50 degrees. How long would that last?

  10. I LOVE MH pouches!! We are getting ready for our first back pack trip in 4 years, and I was going through our gear and found some pouches. I am PUMPED to read about the shelf life!! I might just run and grab a couple Chili Mac n. beef pouches to store and eat in 20 years just for the heck of it! Thanks for the article!

  11. What is the shelf life of the cans after they are opened?

    • Shawn Anderson

      If you live in a dry climate and keep the container closed I have eaten food over a year later. If you are in a humid climate and don’t keep the container closed then it could last a week or two before the freeze dried parts start to reconstitute.

  12. My husband, who once worked at Oregon Freeze Dried foods, just ate a chicken in rice pouch he’s had for 38 or 39 years! Our cat thought the rib eye steak was tasty. Hubby thought the chicken was a little chewy, but he liked it and it brought back memories when he would eat it fresh and hot right off the line! I was almost tempted by the freeze dried ice scream. We are moving and even though we hate to throw out any food, it’s got to go!

  13. I have a supply of Mountian House freeze dried food packages ranging form breakfast to lunch/dinner. When looking at the Best Use By Date APR 2019 (purchased 1 year ago) from a retail chain. Other pouches (in the buckets) purchased 2010, 2011, 2013 & 2014 show the Manufactured On 12187 and time stamped 16:35. Other have dates 12182. I love the long term storage of the MS freeze dried food. Other date code printed are 12173 & 22373. Would you please explain how to read and understand the date codes.

    Thanking you in advance for your assistance in the matter.

    • Daniel, good idea for a blog post, we will work on it. Long story short there is no specific regulated manner in how long term food storage displays dates. Some companies will use CREATE ON date while others will provide a BEST IF USED BY (insert date).

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