Does Bottled Water Have a Shelf Life?

Why Bottled Water Has an Expiration Date

Bottled water may carry an expiration date, but under typical storage conditions it does not go bad. It can grow algae and absorb chemicals from its container that make it taste bad.
Bottled water may carry an expiration date, but under typical storage conditions it does not go bad. It can grow algae and absorb chemicals from its container that make it taste bad. GNL Media / Getty Images

Although bottled water has an expiration date, it doesn't actually go bad. Why is there an expiration date on a product that doesn't go bad? This is because New Jersey requires all food and beverages, including water, to carry an expiration date on its packaging. It doesn't matter if you don't live in New Jersey... your water may carry an expiration date anyway to make it easier to standardize packaging.

Some bottled water only carries its bottling date or a 'best by' date. These dates are helpful because the flavor of the water will change over time as it absorbs chemicals from its packaging. The flavor will not necessarily be bad, but it may be noticeable.

Changes in Bottled Water on the Shelf

Leaching of chemicals from packaging is a health concern, but as far as toxic chemicals go, you can get exposure to most of those chemicals from freshly bottled water as well as bottled water that has been on the shelf a while. A 'plastic' taste is not necessarily an indicator that the water is bad; absence of an unpleasant flavor does not mean the water is free from contaminants.

While algae and bacteria will not grow in sealed bottled water, the situation changes once the seal has been broken. You should consume or discard water within 2 weeks after opening it.

Can You Drink Too Much Water? | Hard Versus Soft Water

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Does Bottled Water Have a Shelf Life?" ThoughtCo, Nov. 13, 2016, thoughtco.com/bottled-water-shelf-life-3975933. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2016, November 13). Does Bottled Water Have a Shelf Life? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/bottled-water-shelf-life-3975933 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Does Bottled Water Have a Shelf Life?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/bottled-water-shelf-life-3975933 (accessed May 23, 2018).