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INTRODUCTION The U.S. Army Natick Research and Development Laboratories continue to conduct an extensive program to improve the quality of food products and develop rations that are suitable for use under varied tactical situations. Present-day tactics dictate mobility, speed, and dis- persion for military strategy. To meet these requirements, rations must be light, have minimum volume, and be easily and quickly prepared. The foods in these rations must also be stable, provide adequate nutri- tion, and be acceptable to the users. Part of the current research and development in subsistence at the Natick Laboratories is focused on weight and volume reduction of foods. During World War II, dehydrated foods were used overseas extensively as part of Army rations. However, acceptance of the products was poor. The process had been given little serious attention and was used only as an emergency measure. Since the end of World War II, however, advances in food research, coupled with earlier research, have given impetus to a better understanding of the science of dehydration of foods. This has led to the development of products good enough to be introduced into the commercial market. In view of the progress in this area, and present thinking with regard to subsistence supply, the armed forces is interested in adopting, as quickly as possible, new technical findings in dehydrated foods. Dehydrated foods have great logistical advantages and definite application to the concepts of warfare now being defined. Recently, dehydrated and compressed foods have become essential for the anticipated long missions of nuclear submarines, which have limited food storage capacity. Nutritional and safety aspects have proven satisfactory under operation conditions. During the past 20 years, the effects of a large number of process variables on the quality of the finished product have been evaluated. These include varietal characteristics, blanching, time and temperature of treatment, sulfiting and other additives, freezing conditions, freeze-drying conditions, other dehydration techniques, compression techniques, compression, force, dwell time, plasticization, and finish-drying methods. Many successful food items were developed by the military. Some acceptable dehydrated and compressed items are peas, green beans, spinach, mixed vegetables, carrots, apples, and blueberries. Dehydrated compressed salad items, such as cole slaw,
were also developed. Meat items such as diced chicken, beef and pork, were also developed but require further work. Because highly successful dehydrated and compressed foods are costly, the military is especially emphasizing research and development to find methods to significantly reduce the production cost of such items. For example, a significant improvement in the freeze-drying and compression of fruits and vegetables is possible when partially freeze-dried foods are "plasticized" by heating with microwaves, thereby saving about 60 percent of the freeze-drying time and a significant amount of energy. In addition, recent studies have indicated that the sulfiting step may not be needed to prevent degradation of dehydrated compressed vegetables. This report covers the major approaches identified for further research to improve technology for: (1) Cost Reduction; (2) Raw Materials and Product Preparation; (3) Shelf Life. It was prepared by the members of the Planning Committee who developed the conclusions and recommendations from the presentations and discussions of each session of the workshop as well as from information obtained after the meeting.