Using Expired Test Strips

Using expired test strips can save you a lot of money, but are they accurate? This is an important question for diabetics who can not afford new test strips or for those who want to know their old test strips are still safe. We tested several brands of test strips that had been expired between 1 and 5 years and found that accuracy depended upon the length of time since expiration and the brand of test strip. Test strips were tested with brand specific controls that had at least 6 months until expiration. Test strips were tested 3 times per each control solution (normal, high, low) and averages, standard deviations, and %RSD were used to determine accuracy and precision. Brands of test strips tested included: One Touch Ultra, One Touch Ultra Blue, FreeStyle Lite, FreeStyle, FreeStyle Insulinx, Accu-Chek Aviva Plus, Accu-Chek Compact, Bayer Breeze 2, Bayer Contour, Bayer Contour Next, Advocate, Element, Embrace, Liberty, Precision Xtra, TrueTest, TrueBalance, and Nova Max. Results are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please follow the advice of your physician.

Expired Test Strips Data

Expired test strips

Test strips that had been expired for 1 year or less were not found to have a statistically significant variation in readings compared to unexpired test stirps. The majority of test strips at the 2 year mark were within the control solution range with the exception of Precision Xtra. Precision Xtra test strips that had been expired for more than 1 year were very slow at absorbing the control solution and readings were neither accurate nor precise. At three years past expiration Precision Xtra test strips read on average 102 below for high controls and read low (<20 mg/dL) for low controls.

Test strips that had been expired more than 5 years tended to have lower accuracy and precision. At the 5 year mark, normal controls (110-150 mg/dL) read on average 15 points lower than non-expired test strips and had occasional erratic readings. Four of the nine brands tested at the 5 year mark were within the control solution range, these included: One Touch Ultra, Bayer Breeze 2, TrueBalance, and TrueTest. Bayer Breeze 2 provided the most accurate results for test strips that had been expired for more than 5 years, with One Touch Ultra being the second most accurate.

Based on our results most test strips can be used safely if they have less than 1 year past expiration. This is, however, a very small study and results may differ with larger sampling sizes. Please use discretion if you choose to use expired test strips. Always use control solutions and test using non-expired test strips to make sure they provide similar results. Test strips in vials that have been opened can give erratic results if used past 6 months of opening the vial. If you feel that your test strips are providing inaccurate results, whether it they are expired or not, stop using them immediately and contact your physician and/or the manufacturer of the test strip. Manufactures will occasionally replace expired test strips.


Accu-Chek Aviva Plus test strips do not work once they are expired unless you use a permanent black code chip (available for free on Accu-Chek’s website).  Expired Accu-Chek Aviva Plus test strips will have an error code if used with white code chips that come with them. To use Accu-Chek Aviva Plus test strips after they expire you must have a black code chip in the meter.


We tested Glucofilm test strips from 1993 (a discontinued test strip) and there were no results above 20 mg/dL.


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One Response to Using Expired Test Strips

  1. Erin Vic June 17, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    My insurance reduced the amount of test strips I get to 3 per day. I am type 1 and I test around 10-12 times a day. I think if I tested just 3 times a day I would probably die. I really don’t know the point of having health insurance. I don’t have the money to buy new test strips so I started using expired ones. I used Accu-Chek Aviva Plus test strips that expired at the end of 2012. The code chip that comes with them doesn’t work, but they do work with the black code chip in the new red boxes of Accu-checks. The expired test strips gave the same reading (within 5 points) as the test strips I have that expire in 2015. I think it is bullshit that the manufacturers put expiration dates that are way too soon on the test strips so you think you have to go buy more when they expire. I mean I know they expire over time, but they could add a year or two on to the date. I know that TRUEtest has much longer expiration dates (3 years+) than brands like Accu-chek (~ 1 year max). This makes me think that Accu-chek is just shortening their date to make more money. And not to mention the price of test strips is way way too high. You know they are banking off diabetics. Anyway I don’t see any problem with using expired test strips. I would just say be cautious and if you think the number is off and test again before you dose. You can also get control solution that will show you if you are getting an accurate number.

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