CHICAGO--Scientists from Lockheed Martin and NASA conducted research to find out the potential shelf of food products packaged in retort pouches (a flexible package in which prepared food is hermetically sealed for long-term unrefrigerated storage) in order to determine the suitability of these foods to support long-duration (three-to-five years) spaceflights. Their findings--published in the November issue of the Journal of Food Science--can be applied not only to space travel but to military missions, camping environments, survival situations such as when power is lost during snowstorms and hurricanes, and to developing countries where there are no cold temperature storage capabilities.
A series of 36-month accelerated shelf life studies were performed on 13 representative retort pouch products. The results showed that meat products are projected to maintain their quality the longest, between 2 to 8 years without refrigeration. Fruit and dessert products (1.5 to 5 years), dairy products (2.5 to 3.25 years) and starches, vegetable and soup products (1 to 4 years) follow. Aside from considerable losses in vitamin B and C content, nutritional value of most products was maintained throughout shelf life.
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