To Use or Not to Use: Expired Diabetic Test Strips

Many of us look at expiration dates on consumable products like milk and follow them like the gospel. The idea of drinking spoiled milk is, well, nauseating. But what about expired diabetic test strips? Could it be that the expiration dates on those strips is arbitrary, and put there for no better reason than to boost sales for the pharmaceutical industry?

Diabetic test strips are wildly controversial: They cost too much. They aren't accurate enough. They aren't as effective as they claim. The right ones can be hard to find.

But do they expire?

The short and easy and accurate answer is yes, they do expire.

Test strips have chemicals and enzymes on them that will inevitably break down over time. This is basic chemistry, and it is unavoidable.

There are also many variables at work with test strips, variables that have the ability to render strips less effective or accurate over time. Since no two brands of test strips are made exactly the same, it's next to impossible to guess whether or not an expiration date on a box of strips can be loosely ignored (meaning using them a couple of months after the printed date).

Ultimately, there's no real debate here. Whether the industry is making big money off printing premature expiration dates or not, by using expired strips you're gambling with your health.

Photo: Sun Rising Medical, Consumer Reports

Using expired test strips can be hazardous since the chemicals on strips break down over time.