I Just Found Out Why Water Bottles Have Expiration Dates

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes stop and read the plastic water bottles you’re drinking out of to find out which exotic glacier it was sourced from, or who drew the pretty mountain scene on the label.

Which means you’ve probably noticed that the bottles also have expiration dates printed on them.

That’s right, expiration dates, like a gallon of milk! What is up with that, people?

Well, folks, there is an answer, and it’ll make you gulp your water a little more easily. Apparently, the expiration date is a mixture of corporate and government BS!

Water, like all consumable food products, is required by law to have an expiration date. So even though water itself never really goes bad, a date gets slapped on the bottle anyway.

So, how do they select the date? Turns out, it’s pretty arbitrary. For starters, water bottling companies are lazy.

Just like you or me, water companies would rather mindlessly repeat the same task over and over. Since water is packaged in the same plant as soda and juices, it’s just easier for, say, Coca-Cola to label Dasani bottles the same way it would Coke and Sprite bottles instead of having a whole separate process. So whatever expiration date your bottle has on it is the same as bunch of soda and juice bottles that were made on the same day.

And the expiration dates are just one part of a bigger code that all water bottles must have.

The code also has the date, bottling plant, and other information, juuust in case the bottling companies need to track down any bottles that have been contaminated or printed in error.

Although water, in and of itself, does not go bad, the plastic bottle it is contained in does “expire,” and will eventually start leaching chemicals into the water. This won’t necessarily render the water toxic, but it might make it taste somewhat less than “mountain spring fresh.” If consumers contact drink companies to complain that water they bought several years earlier tastes bad, the bottlers can point out that it’s their own fault for not drinking it by the expiration date.

So there you have it! And in case you’re still a little ~nervous~ about coming down with a case of water bottle poisoning, please relax.