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High pressure is alternative to thermal processing for egg-based MREs.

The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have been searching for better quality shelf-stable egg-based breakfast entrees for group or individual military rations for several years. The army used to prepare the eggs using a canning or retort treatment--a practice that resulted in products with unacceptable quality.

Retorting is detrimental to taste and texture specified for different egg products. On the other hand, high-pressure processing (HPP), in combination with heat, can achieve the desired shelf life and can produce better quality meals ready-to-eat (MREs) for soldiers. Three academic partners, Washington State University, the National Center for Food Safety and Technology and The Ohio State University, joined together to demonstrate the feasibility of HPP for producing high nutritional and sensory quality safe egg products with a shelf life of three years.

Phase I of the Combat Ration Network (CORANET) project--Shelf-Stable, Egg-Based Breakfast Entrees Processed by Ultra-High-Pressure (UHP) Technology--has been completed. During this first phase of the project, researchers used HPP in combination with heat to treat and test different formulated egg-based packaged products. Pressure-time-temperature sterilization conditions for a set of scrambled egg-based patties were identified.

Phase II of this project has been approved by the Army and will begin soon. Researchers will attempt to obtain higher quality UHP sterilized egg-based products in a large-scale production environment. This effort will involve outlining a guide for FDA approval for the newly formulated processed products. This phase will last about 18 months and will demonstrate the economical feasibility of UHP and will produce high-quality, safe and shelf-stable egg products on an industrial scale.

Further information. Tatiana Koutchma, National Center for Food Safety and Technology, 6502 South Archer Rd., Summit-Argo, IL 60501; phone: 708-563-8178; fax: 708-563-1873; email:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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