MILWAUKEE — Sometimes when you notice an item is past its expiration date your initial reaction is to toss it, but you will want to hold off when it comes to COVID-19 test kits.
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the shelf life for multiple at-home COVID-19 tests.
Andrea Greuel was surprised to see her at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government expired by the time she needed to use them. Her husband Bill tested positive for COVID-19 so she started testing at home.
"I wasn't sure if the components in the test break down after the expiration date. You know, I don't have that kind of knowledge. Is it still a reliable test," Greuel wondered.
People who recently received at-home tests from the state of Wisconsin noticed the same thing. What was not detailed is that the FDA extended the shelf life for these COVID-19 test kits for up to 12 months.
"What manufacturers do is they'll submit initially with a shorter stability period, and then they'll move to having a longer stability period by submitting data to the FDA supporting that longer stability period," explained Dr. Nathan Ledeboer, vice chair of the Department of Pathology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Dr. Ledeboer advised visiting the FDA's website to verify the shelf-life of your specific test. He emphasized a test kit with an extension is fine to use.
"If the test has been extended, they should have no concerns because data, evaluating the performance of that test and evaluating the stability of that test has already demonstrated that that test will continue to work," Dr. Ledeboer said.
Greuel and others who noticed expiration dates are relieved the kits are still good to use but think the messaging should be clearer.
"There continue to be cases and the need for more tests. So, you know, to have a test that has an expiration date, but to know that it's still valid is helpful to know," said Greuel.
Ledeboer says despite extensions on some of these test kits, expiration dates are still important since not every test is made the same way. If you would like to check your test kit head to FDA's website. You can also head to the website for the maker of the test distributed across Wisconsin.