In general a product's shelf life or safe storage time is affected by a number of variables, including intrinsic parameters, such as pH and moisture content, and extrinsic parameters, such as environmental factors. Understanding these variables is key to maintaining a safe food product.
Bottled Water - indefinitely shelf live under optimal conditions
The FDA has not established a shelf life for bottled water. In the United States bottled water's shelf life is date stamped for two years. This acts as a SKU number and is mainly for stock rotation purposes. It does not imply that the product is compromised after that date. As long as bottled water is packaged in accordance with FDA processing and good manufacturing practices, 21 CFR, Part 129, and is meeting the FDA quality standard provisions as outlined in 21 CFR, Part 165, the product's shelf life should remain intact for an indefinite period of time.
Properly stored bottled water has indefinitely shelf live. However, long-term storage of bottled water may result in aesthetic defects, such as off-odor and taste. IBWA advises consumers to store bottled water in an unopened container at room temperature (or cooler), out of direct sunlight and away from solvents and chemicals such as gasoline, paint thinners and dry cleaning chemicals.
Bottled water is an excellent choice for emergency water storage. FDA Good Manufacturing Practices mandate that bottled water be produced in a sanitary environment and bottled in sanitary, safety-sealed containers.
Tap Water – rotate every six month under optimal conditions
The recommendations are different for water (tap water) that is filled in containers and stored for an food and water emergency. FEMA recommendations for water that is self bottled are to store the water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiber glass or enamel-lined metal containers. Plastic containers such as soft drink bottles are considered a good choice. The containers need to be sealed tightly, labeled and stored in a cool dark place. The recommendation is to rotate water every six month.
Recently released emergency preparedness guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommend that all households maintain an emergency supply of water -- at least one gallon per person per day for three days -- for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.
Food and Water in an Emergency (FEMA)
Bottled Water Regulations and the FDA
International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)