Do Ramen Noodles Expire or Go Bad?


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Last Updated: July 18, 2021

Instant ramen noodles may not bear much resemblance to those served at a Michelin-starred ramen restaurant, but they will relieve your hunger when you most need it.

An excellent survival food, ramen noodles can be eaten raw, at a push, or quickly converted into a delicious soup. Either way, they’ll give you all the carbohydrates you need to keep your blood sugar and energy levels up.

Survival food needs to do more than provide instant hunger relief, however, and also needs to survive itself, which brings us to the crux of the matter – do ramen noodles expire?

Do Ramen Noodles Expire?

Instant noodles are non-perishable and are made using food preservation technology that extends their shelf life.

The best before dates on bagged instant noodles will generally be between eight months to two years.

That’s only one side of the story, however, and many survivalists and preppers find themselves wondering how long ramen noodles are good for after the expiration date?

The expiration dates on food items don’t tell consumers that the product has become dangerous to eat. They simply let you know that the product is no longer at its best. That might mean it’s gone a little soft or stale, but that it still contains the nutritional value it had before.

According to some, instant noodles may still be edible for up to 10 years after their expiry date, whereas others say they begin to stale just six months after they officially expired.

Once they reach 18 months beyond the expiration date, the noodles are liable to taste more like cardboard than food but will likely still be safe to eat.

When your ramen noodles have survived for two years beyond their best before date, it’s time to decide if an upset stomach is better than an empty one or whether it’s better to give those noodles a wide berth.

You’ll want to exercise a little caution before tucking into 2-year-old ramen noodles, let alone 12-year-old ones, and it’s well worth checking for the following telltale signs of expiration:

  • Mould
  • Unpleasant odor or flavor
  • Strange texture
  • Discoloration

If any of these signs are present, you should stay well away from those noodles and find yourself a handful of berries or an edible root or two to sate your hunger instead.

Why Do Ramen Noodles Have Such A Long Shelf Life?

According to the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA), ramen noodles have an extra lease of life as a result of the dehydration process. Everything from the seasoning to the noodles themselves is dehydrated and then processed through a high-temperature treatment to reduce moisture content even further.

The fats used in making the noodles are chosen for their oxidative stability. This limits the negative effects of oxidation, such as rancidity, unpleasant flavors, and altered nutritional value.

The packaging used for instant noodles is also designed to elongate their shelf life by preventing light, oxygen, and humidity from affecting the contents.

How To Make Your Ramen Noodles Last Longer

How you store your emergency survival food will have a significant impact on its longevity. Noodles, for instance, prefer being kept away from humidity and direct sunlight and are happiest in ambient temperatures.

I used to store ramen noodles in the pantry to increase their longevity, and it worked for a while – until the mice discovered my stash. Since then, I’ve found how to rodent-proof my food storage and have all my noodles safely stashed away in airtight containers.

Are Ramen Noodles Good For You?

To what extent can a tangle of dehydrated wheat flour dough be considered a healthy food?

Unsurprisingly, WINA believes instant noodles are nutritious enough to fulfill your daily needs while admitting that eating ramen noodles and ramen noodles alone would mean your “nutrition will be ill-balanced.”

Nutritionists and health food experts have a rather different opinion, however, and maintain that most types of instant noodles are detrimental to your health, especially if eaten daily. Although ramen noodles do contain some micronutrients and are low in calories, they’re also high in fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.

The sodium content is the biggest health concern as a diet that contains too much salt can increase your blood pressure and the risk of both heart disease and stomach cancer. A single packet of ramen noodles contains a whopping 1,760 mg of sodium, which is around 88% of the World Health Organization’s recommended daily dose.

Are They a Good Survival Food?

If you’re currently adding to your survival food list, then Ramen noodles certainly have their place as a cheap and long-lasting source of carbohydrates.

Even if they’re long past their best before date, they’re still liable to be more palatable than a plateful of boiled woodlice!`

They should form a small part of your food preps.

If you want to learn more about creating a planning an emergency food stockpile check out our inventory spreadsheets and workbook.

Conclusion

Ramen noodles can last for years if you store them correctly and will always be there for you when the SHTF. Offering an instant pick-me-up, pre-cooked instant noodles can be eaten raw or made into a noodle soup that “is one of the most basic comfort foods the world has ever known.”

When the 2011 tsunami left thousands of people without homes or food, ramen noodles flew in to save the day, while in dorm rooms across the world, ramen noodles keep starving students alive.

Who’s to say that, in a disaster situation, ramen noodles won’t rescue you too, even if they are several years past their expiration date?

Leave a comment

  1. I vacuum sealed Ramen noodles in 2013. I have eaten most of them in 2020 and into this year. They were stored in food grade buckets in my garage. The noodles were good but the dehydrated seasoning had turned hard. Even so, it was also still good.

    Reply
  2. One thing that isn’t mentioned is the addition of perhaps dehydrated vegetables, such as peas, carrots, or spinach. These items, even when dehydrated, retain most of their nutrients. Adding as little as a tablespoon of these would greatly balance the load and enhance the eating experience.

    Reply
    • Yes, but dehydrated veggies should ideally be stored separately so moisture can be better controlled. Most veggies need to be cooked before dehydrating too. Othewise it takes HOURS of cooking to rehydrate them, which would blow through your fuel in emergency situations. We’ve got a good guide to dehydrating here: https://www.primalsurvivor.net/dehydrating-food/

      Reply
  3. I accidentally stored a large quantity of Ramen noodles in a wooden box in the 1990’s. I unearthed them last year and have eaten several packages. Some packages, however, have experienced a significant change. The noodles are essentially unchanged, stale and chewy when prepared. The ‘flavor’ packets though in some packages were moist instead of powder. Tiny bugs had survived two decades by slowly consuming spice and noodle. We made a video of the unpackaging. It’s gross.

    Reply
  4. I had several 12-count boxes of ramen at my cabin to snack on while building, clearing land, etc. They were not more than a year from purchase, but had spent a couple of hot summer months in an non-climate controlled place. When I opened them they had an odd smell, a cross between stale crackers and rancid oil. I didn’t have anything else, so I cooked them up. They tasted a bit off, but I ate them with no ill effects. I did toss the rest, since I figured they’d only get worse. I think it was the fats and oils going rancid that produced the off smell and taste.

    Reply
    • Fats do get a weird sour smell when they go rancid. It’s safe to eat rancid fats as they won’t cause food poisoning like eating bad meat or dairy will (though long-term eating rancid fats might cause some health issues like increased risk of cancer…).

      Reply
  5. Just pulled a package of Ramen noodles out of my emergency pantry. It expired about 16 months ago. No amount of doctoring it up helped. I felt like I was chewing on shredded cardboard.

    I can personally attest that this article is spot on!

    I will throw out all of them but perhaps rip them open and save the spice packet. It is vacuum packed in foil and I am sure those could come in handy in survival scenario.

    Reply

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