Is Bottled Water Really Running Out of Shelf Life?

Water cannot go bad if you really just have water in a sealed bottle. The bacteria cannot eat the nutrients, so poisoning is hardly possible. So why is there an expiration date on bottled water?

Rumor has it that the expiration date matches the expiration date of the bottle . While this is technically incorrect – I could not find any indication that the plastic was “expiring” – this is closer to the truth. After years of inactivity, bottled water can start to feel a little … plastic.

By the way, the date on bottled water is not an expiration date. (There used to be a New Jersey law requiring it, but that law has been repealed .) Bottles usually have an expiration date. Check with bottled water companies and they will all tell you: this is for taste, not safety. For example, here is Poland Spring :

Do not be afraid! You don’t have to worry about our bottled water going bad. (In other words, you don’t have to drink the water as soon as you get it – but don’t judge us if we do.) However, we do have an expiration date to indicate when it can start. lose your fresh spring flavor.

The International Bottled Water Association provides a bit more information. While they deny that any significant amount of plastic leaches out of the bottle into the water (a claim that seems controversial ), the bottle is still to blame if your water starts to taste strange after a year or two of storage:

Bottled water and other beverages are packed in sealed plastic containers that provide a high degree of protection and hygiene, which ensures the quality and freshness of the product. However, plastic containers – whether used for bottled water or other beverages – are poorly permeable, which can allow gases from the ambient air, such as vapors from household solvents, petroleum based fuels, and other chemicals, to affect the taste and smell of your drink.

To keep the water tasting fresh, they recommend storing it in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and away from solvents and other strong-smelling chemicals.


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