Does Bottled Water Ever Go Bad?
You know how leaving a bottle of water in a hot car for a while can make it taste kind of plastic-y? It’s not very pleasant, but is it still safe to drink? Thankfully, yes.
According to the FDA, the agency in charge of regulating the safety of bottled water, it has an “indefinite safety shelf life” as long as it’s “stored in an unopened, properly sealed container.” That’s why the FDA doesn’t actually require bottles of water to have an expiration date.
Most bottles do have one, but that’s just because New Jersey has a law requiring all food products sold there to have an expiration date of two years or less from the date it was made. So instead of making bottles just for the Garden State, they stamp them all with the two-year expiration date.
But just because that unopened bottle of water is technically safe after the two years, that doesn’t mean it’ll taste good. When water sits out too long, that funky taste it has is because of a chemical change. The carbon dioxide in water dissolves over time and forms carbonic acid. It’s still okay to drink, but it has a slightly acidic taste.
And if you’re stockpiling huge amounts of water bottles with plans to drink them in 10 years or during the zombie apocalypse, just remember that plastic isn’t impermeable. Over time, algae or bacteria can get grow in there, so store them away from direct sunlight and replace your supply every year or so.