The U.S. military’s latest ready-to-eat meal (MRE) is a pizza that doesn’t go bad for three years.
MRE’s contain packaged meals and snacks with a flame-free heater that works quickly to warm the food, which doesn’t require any refrigeration or freezing. They include breakfast sandwiches, pastas and burritos, but soldiers have been asking for pizza since the lightweight field rations replaced canned food in 1981.
After two years of development, the Natick military labs in Massachusetts say the recipe is almost ready.
“You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it’d still be edible,” said Michelle Richardson, a food scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.
Moisture in tomato sauce was the biggest challence for MRE pizza. Not only would the moisture ruin the dough, it’s a place for mold and disease-causing bacteria to grow.
The new pizza contains humectants – salt, sugar, and syrups – that bind the moisture in the sauce from getting into the dough.
The acidity in the sauce has also been modified to make it harder for bacteria and oxygen to get inside.
"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," said Jill Bates, who runs the lab. "The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature."
“It tastes pretty much what you would get from a pizza parlor,” said technologist Dan Nattress.