FROM DEEP SEA TO DEEP SPACE: CREATING AND OPTIMIZING FOOD FOR PEOPLE LIVING AND WORKING IN EXTREME CONDITIONS

From the News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Released: 6/23/2014 6:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Institute of Food Technologists 2014 Annual Meeting and Food Expo

Newswise — NEW ORLEANS—How do you feed a six-person crew on a three-year mission to Mars?

Food scientists are working on this and other challenges related to creating and optimizing food for astronauts, soldiers, pilots and other individuals working and living in extreme environments, according to a June 23 panel discussion at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® in New Orleans.

The constraints often are similar whether the food is created for the desert, mountains, deep sea or space – it needs to be nutritious, palatable, light-weight, easy to store and transport, and stable for months or years depending on the location and duration of the mission.

“Extreme feeding is what we do,” said Ann H. Barrett, a food engineer with the U.S. Army Soldier, Research, Development and Engineering Center, Combat Feeding Directive, charged with overseeing food and food packaging for Army staff working in a broad range of conditions and locations. In most instances, the food must remain viable within the designated environment, while giving the soldier, pilot or other staff member the energy and nutrients to survive the physical challenges and harsh conditions of their assignment, said Barrett.

For example, prepackaged meals, called Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE), are 1,300 calories, weigh 1.5 pounds, and are shelf-stable for three years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The National Air and Space Program (NASA) is embarking on “the ultimate challenge,” to create a viable food program by 2030 that will feed a six-person team of astronauts for up to three years, said Grace Douglas, PhD, advanced food technology project scientist at NASA.

There will be different gravities on Mars, “we’ll have crew in pressurized suits, and ultimately, these astronauts will go much farther from earth for a much longer duration,” said Douglas.

“We need to create a safe and nutritious food system that meets space flight requirements,” said Douglas. For example, beverages must withstand high pressure, and food must have the appropriate viscosity to remain on a fork or spoon. Optimally, the food will have “crew acceptability,” meaning the astronauts want to eat the products over many years.

With current prepackaged foods designed for space, six crew members living on Mars for 1,095 days will require 12,023 kilograms of food. Fortunately, food scientists at NASA and other organizations are working to make prepackaged foods that are lighter, tastier and more nutritious, with a longer shelf life.

For example, Douglas said that NASA scientists recently grew and harvested a head of lettuce on a space flight. The opportunity to someday grow safe, nutritious crops in space could help with nutrition and food variety in space.

About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2014 Annual Meeting & Food Expo Meeting News
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2014 Annual Meeting & Food Expo®, brings together professionals involved in both the science and the business of food — experts from industry, academia and government. With more than 900 companies exhibiting, this event showcases the largest, most diverse collection of food ingredient, equipment, and packaging suppliers from all over the world. Over 100 educational sessions and 1,000 poster presentations will provide information on the latest developments and trends in food science.

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About jeanne hambleton

Journalist-wordsmith, former reporter, columnist, film critic, editor, Town Clerk and then fibromite and eventer with 5 conferences done and dusted. Interested in all health and well being issues, passionate about research to find a cure and cause for fibromyalgia. Member LinkedIn. Worked for 4 years with FMA UK as Regional Coordinator for SW and SE,and Chair for FMS SAS the Sussex and Surrey FM umbrella charity and Chair Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research UK - finding funding for our "cause for a cure" and President and co ordinator of National FM Conferences. Just finished last national annual Fibromyalgia Conference Weekend. This was another success with speakers from the States . Next year's conference in Chichester Park Hotel, West Sussex, will be April 24/27 2015 and bookings are coming in from those who raved about the event every year. I am very busy but happy to produce articles for publication. News Editor of FMS Global News on line but a bit behind due to conference. A workaholic beyond redemption! The future - who knows? Open to offers with payment. Versatile and looking for a regular paid column - you call the tune and I will play the pipes.
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