Is it Safe To Buy or Sell Military-Issue MREs Online? What About MRE Shelf Life?
In short, yes, just don’t forget to check the remaining MRE shelf life if you’re buying from a personal seller. MRE shelf life is not that long, so don’t get caught buying partially expired packs!
I have a personal story about selling a similar item.
When we lived in Japan, my wife used to be a weekend soldier in the self-defense force. Once she brought home some military-issue canned food from one of her trainings. She assured me they tasted quite horrible; that’s why she had leftovers.
After a few months of moving them back and forth between various storage racks, we decided to get rid of them. Always looking for a new crevice for storage gets old after a while in a small Japanese apartment.
None of our friends wanted them, so we’ve decided to put them on Yahoo Auctions, the Japanese equivalent of eBay. I set the starting price at 1 yen (1 cent) with no “buy now.”
We didn’t expect to make more than a few coins. Who would want these anyway?, we thought. We just needed them out of the way, and since throwing away food in Japan is sacrilege, we did what a well-trained citizen does; passed them on.
Shockingly, the bidding ended at 2200 yen, or at about $30. We were pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, military otakus (obsessive fans) dig this stuff.
We went out to eat sushi. Needless to say it was a lot better than the canned gunk would have been.
MREs in the US
Military-issue are not contraband as such.
In the US, there’s no law that bans the sale of these MREs. It is, however, illegal for members of the armed services to trade them for personal profit. It’s taxpayer money after all.
In other words it’s OK to trade between themselves, which they do, to get the MREs they personally prefer, but it’s a crime to sell them for money.
As far as the customer is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with buying MREs from eBay or online shops. Now, if the seller is in the army, he may get into trouble. He may be in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That is not the buyer’s responsibility however, and hopefully no seller is stupid to put “I just stole these from the base” in the item description.
Is There a Point In Buying Military-Issue MREs?
From my experience above I can see why someone would want the “real thing.” Army geeks are welcome to get military-issue MREs on eBay. The army frowns on this practice but buyers are not breaking the law.
The rest of the world may be better off shopping around for the best deal.
Makers of military MREs offer MREs for the public. The differences are minor. These commercial MREs may have a different design on the packaging and other accessories. Countless disaster preparedness sites, and even Amazon offer MREs for sale.
Regarding MRE Shelf Life
Tip: Always check MRE shelf life when buying online.
Commercial packages should have the usual MRE shelf life, which is 3 to 3 and a half years.
With military-issue packs, MRE shelf life varies, depending on how long it’s been in storage. You never know with a personal seller. It should be in the item description.
I recommend you ask before purchase if it’s not listed; it’s hardly a good deal if it’s about to expire, right?