How Are Blood Component Expiration Dates Determined?

April 29, 2011 at 9:03 am

By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) set safety standards and requirements that blood banks must follow. One of these is the expiration date of various blood components. For red blood cells, the date depends on the types of anticoagulants and additive solutions; the most common systems currently in use have an expiration date of 42 days from the date of collection. But if the hermetic seal at the top of the blood collection bag is opened (when preparing to transfuse a unit), the expiration date is just 24 hours.

The FDA requires that the expiration date be exactly one year from the date of collection for frozen plasma. Platelets expire five days from the date of collection because they cannot be refrigerated.

The FDA sets these dates on the basis of safety and viability studies.