Most of us have heard of the dreaded MRE™ or Meal, Ready to Eat™, but there are some people out there who have no idea what they are. We thought it might be interesting to make this information available to our blog readers. We would love some comments from military personnel who have eaten these and tell us why food from care packages is so beneficial to receive while deployed.
PURPOSE: The Meal, Ready to Eat™ (MRE™) is used by all Military Services to sustain individuals during operations where food service facilities are not available. They are the cornerstone of military subsistence, intended to provide a Warfighter’s sole subsistence for up to 21 days of deployment yet nutritionally adequate to be used for longer periods if necessary.
CHARACTERISTICS: Three MREs™ provide a Warfighter with the OTSG’s approved nutritional requirements for a military ration (or day’s worth of subsistence). Each meal contains an entrée, starch, spread (cheese, peanut butter, jam/jelly), dessert, snacks, beverages, hot beverage bag, accessory packet, plastic spoon and a flameless ration heater (FRH). The flexibly packaged foods are heat processed in retort pouches that are lightweight, compact, and easily opened. Each component has a shelf life of 3 years at 80˚F (27˚C) or 6 months at 100˚F (38˚C). Twenty-four menus provide flexibility and variety to meet the diverse tastes of all Warfighters, including traditional favorites, like spaghetti & meat sauce, as well as ethnic dishes, like chicken fajitas and chili w/beans. Of the 24 menus, four are vegetarian, meeting the needs of those individuals following a vegetarian diet for personal or religious reasons. The MRE™ is shipped in two cases, with Menus 1-12 packed in Case A and Menus 13-24 packed in Case B (2 vegetarian menus per case).
NUTRITIONAL DATA: Each meal provides an average of 1300 calories (13% protein, 34% fat, and 52% carbohydrate).
PREPARATION REQUIREMENTS: The individual Warfighter heats the food. Approximately 23 ounces (.68 liters) of water is needed to rehydrate all beverages. An additional 1 oz. (29.6 ml) of water is needed to activate the FRH for heating the entrée.
COMMENTS: The MRE™ is part of the Continuous Product Improvement process under the Fielded Individual Ration Improvement Project. Feedback from Operation Desert Shield/Storm suggested that Warfighters would consume more if their preferences were taken into consideration. In 1993, the Fielded Individual Ration Improvement Project (FIRIP) was initiated to improve the variety, acceptability, consumption and nutritional intake of individual combat rations to enhance performance on the battlefield. Today, all components that are put into or taken out of an MRE™ must first be Warfighter Recommended, Warfighter Tested, Warfighter Approved™.
Specific improvements include: From 1993 through 2010, 216 new items will have been approved and added to menus; 65 of the least acceptable items will have been removed. Over 75% of new components are non-developmental items, many of which are commercially available. New, easy-open meal bags with Warfighter approved colors and graphics were put into production in 2008. Drink pouches for dairy shakes, cocoa, and cappuccino are ergonomically designed. Nutritional labeling is included on each component.