Monday, February 17, 2014


Soldiers fighting for their country need to be fed with nutritional and tasty foods if their morale and physical dynamics are to be maintained. Canned foods of yesteryear provided a good source of many foods which can be preserved for 1-2 years easily and even to day these foods are served in remote areas where there is difficult access for the supply chain. Emergence of technologies like irradiation, vacuum packing, high pressure processing etc do provide alternative choices but their compatibility with some foods raise issues of quality and safety. Against such a situation comes the news that a technology has been developed by the Defense Forces scientists in the Us for preserving Pizza for 3 years without seriously affecting its sensory qualities and with assured safety. Here is a take on this latest development in food preservation technology scenario.

"Researchers at a U.S. military lab are getting closer to perfecting what some call "the holy grail" of food prepared for soldiers: a pizza that stays edible for up to three years and does not require refrigeration or freezing, the Associated Press reports. "It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you would make at home and take out of the oven or the toaster oven," Jill Bates, who runs the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts, told the AP. "The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature." Soldiers have reportedly been requesting a pizza version of the "meals ready to eat", or MREs, ever since the products replaced canned food over three decades ago for soldiers in combat zones."

Though the technical details provided by these scientists are scanty, there is no basis to doubt their claims regarding the soundness of the new technology. But the acceptability of the product needs to be confirmed by field trials and it is the soldier who decides whether he gets the satisfaction of eating a standard pizza by eating the the new preserved version. In India also there is a dedicated Defense  research set up at Mysore which has a few technologies to its credit and one of them is a long life Roti which can be "preserved" for 6 months but the product does not seem to have found favor with army personnel on account of quality inadequacy. Similarly Government of India set up a most "modern" factory at Tundla near Agra about 5 decades ago to manufacture accelerated freeze dried meat for feeding the armed forces personnel. It is history as to how this plant was to be junked after the product failed to satisfy the jawans. It is true that lot of improvements have taken place during the last two decades but still the new version of pizza must be accepted unreservedly by the consumers if the technology has to be made commercially viable.


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