Yes, your water bottle has an expiry date. But not for the reason you think.

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Expiry dates. Those pesky limiting time frames that demand we eat our food, use products and do things within a certain period. It can start to feel like they rule our lives. You must eat your yoghurt by this datefresh greens are best before… and don’t eat left over pizza if it’s been in the fridge for more than two days (unless, of course, it passes the scratch and sniff test).

But there’s one expiration date that’s a bit misleading. If you’ve ever looked at a bottle of water closely you would have noticed it comes with an expiration date, typically within two years of manufacturing. We know what you’re thinking – how can water possibly go off?

However, it turns out it’s not actually the water you need to be worried about expiring – it’s the bottle.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) explains the plastic used for water bottles is porous, which means it can be easily penetrated. After an extended period of time the plastic will begin to pick up flavours from its surrounding environment in turn affecting the taste of the water. Doesn't sound very 'spring lakes fresh', does it?

There’s another reason you shouldn’t be reusing disposable water bottles.

Even though the actual water does not have a shelf life, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate all consumable food products be labelled with an expiry date. Don’t be tricked into thinking buying a cold bottle at the supermarket means it is more likely to be fresher than its brother on the shelf, although the expiry process can be accelerated by direct sunlight or heat so it is recommended bottles are kept in a cooler place.


Consumers are still urged to drink their water before the “best by” dates, but the labelling is more an indicator of quality rather than safety.

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Coca-Cola spokeswoman, Susan McDermott, told the Wall Street Journal that the date on their bottled water isn’t really a expiry date.

“It is more of an optimal taste date,” she said.

Even the bottled-water industry is hard-pressed to justify the stamps. According to a spokeswoman for a company that bottles Poland Spring water, the labelling practice is not health based.

"There's no real rationale,” she told the WSJ.

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Many manufactures continue to stamp their bottles for efficiency's sake as they use the same machines to stamp products that do expire, like soft drinks.

Articles by the FDA state an unopened bottle will keep indefinitely as long as the packaging remains sealed and undamaged.

So if you’ve been chugging down gallons of water in an effort to not let it spoil, you can stop worrying. However, it's important to note that water - unlike wine - does not get better with age. As long as you don’t store your water in a musty basement for years on end you should be fine.

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