Does Bottled Water Go Bad?

Woman holding bottle of water in supermarket
Bottled water may carry an expiration date, but under typical storage conditions it does not go bad. baona/iStock

Most bottled water has an expiration date stamped on the bottle, but does the bottled water actually go bad? If so, how long is bottled water good? The answer to this common question is fairly simple.

Expiration Dates Come From a State Law

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 the state of 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.

Any Leaching From Plastic Is Unrelated to Time

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; conversely, the absence of an unpleasant flavor does not mean the water is free from contaminants.

Keep Bottled Water Sealed

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 two weeks after opening it.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Does Bottled Water Go Bad?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, October 29). Does Bottled Water Go Bad? Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Does Bottled Water Go Bad?" ThoughtCo. (accessed August 1, 2021).

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