Nutrition Diva discusses whether bottled water expires and why you should avoid leaving plastic water bottles in the car.
Q. My bottled water has an expiration date, which is long past. Is there health risk in drinking this "expired" water? Some of these plastic bottles have been in very warm environments, such as cars that sit in the sun.
A. According to the FDA, bottled water has an indefinite shelf life—although it can pick up off flavors during long storage. According to them, the water is safe to drink as long as it hasn’t been opened—no matter what the date on the bottle. The expiration date on your water bottle has primarily to do with inter-state commerce. New Jersey requires that every packaged food be stamped with an expiration date no more than two years from the date of manufacture. Because most bottled water companies distribute in New Jersey, most bottled water has an expiration date.
Another concern with water stored in plastic—especially in hot temperatures—is the leaching of plastic chemicals into the water. Heat speeds the leaching of these compounds (which is why microwaving in plastic is a no-no)—and that would be a concern regardless of the expiration date. There’s still a lot of debate about how much harm these compounds might do and how far we need to go to avoid them. The primary hazard seems to be for babies and small children (and, by extension, pregnant women). For the rest of us, I think it's probably worth doing what we can to minimize our exposure, but no cause for all-out panic.
See also: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
If I were you, I wouldn’t worry that much about the expiration date. But I would try to avoid leaving plastic water bottles in the car. If you’d rather play it safe, use the water to water your plants or garden and invest in a couple of stainless steel bottles. They’re also easier on the environment.
Group plastic bottles of water from Shutterstock