Dirty, Sweaty Freestyle Test Strips?


My Abbott Freestyle Freedom Lite glucose meter generally makes me happy. I can test on my forearm, and the butterfly strips hardly require any blood.  Also, unlike my husband’s Freestyle Lite (not Freedom) which has pooped out on him and gives him error readings fairly often, my meter has held up fine for about three years already. But…

Every so often I get a dirty canister of test strips.  What I mean is that instead of the usual white, the inside of the canister is grayish-black.  It looks like newspaper print after it’s rubbed off on fingers, or like someone colored it with a pencil. 

I don’t know why this happens.  I assume the dark grayish color comes from the dark sections of the test strips themselves.  Do they sweat?  If so, does it affect their accuracy?  Am I buying strips that have been exposed to heat during shipping?  Is it safe to use strips whose color is rubbing off?  Or is there some other explanation for the dirty-looking canister?

The first time I got one of these canisters, I wanted to return it.  But the idea of waiting in the always-long-line at the pharmacy and then arguing to try to get a  new box of strips was just too unappealing.  Instead, I opened a new box, which looked normal, and offered Mike my dirty strips.  He gladly took them and used them.  “I’m sure they’re fine,” he said.   “Unless it’s lead.”

But how do we know they’re fine?  I don’t like to get any imperfect products.  And when it comes to healthcare products, imperfections make me very anxious.  Popping open a container of test strips shouldn’t stress me out. 

Basically, what I want to know is if my dirty strips are safe and accurate.  (Note: I’ve also seen smudges on the strips themselves, not just on the canister.) I have been to Abbott’s website several times looking for an explanation, but haven’t found anything, not in their FAQ section or anywhere else. Google searches haven’t brought me answers either.

Has anyone else encountered this?

Happy New Year!

*Update: I just opened a new box of strips and looked over the package insert which says, “The cap or vial contains drying agents to protect the test strips.” 

Could I be talking about drying agents?  And what’s a drying agent anyway?  That’s pretty vague.  A desiccant?  What kind?  Anyone know?   

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Jessica Apple
10 years ago

Hi Nathan!  Thanks for the feedback.

Nathan Shackelford
10 years ago

I think that section is where the drying agent is built into the container. Maybe they use different colored drying agents, depending on what’s available? I know my One-Touch containers used to be black in the inside and built out like that. Now they are white inside and the whole cylinder is flush. 

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