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Troops getting fan favorite pizza MREs back by end of year

A United States Air Force basic trainee tries the drink packaged in his Meal Ready to Eat, or MRE, at the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training site at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, April 8, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Trevor Tiernan)
March 19, 2018

The popular pizza MRE is on track to be back in service members’ hands by the end of the year, officials have recently announced.

The MRE, short for Meals, Ready-to-Eat, is a field ration program used by the U.S. military for service members who are in field and combat conditions where hot food is not readily available.

The military is very reliant on these food commodities, but last year it announced that the popular pizza MRE was going to be unavailable for an indefinite period of time. It was expected to be available this year.

The Combat Feeding Directorate at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center said there was a problem with mass production back in March 2017, Army Times had reported.

MREs generally have a three year shelf life when stored at 80 degrees or below. But the pizzas showed signs of spoilage during testing. During testing, MREs are stored for six months in 100 degree temperatures.

The problem was with the tomato sauce turning brown, said Julie Smith, a senior food technologist at the Combat Feeding Directorate. The browning wasn’t a safety issue, but more of a quality issue, officials said.

The formula was changed and the addition of rosemary extract made all the difference, as it prevents the oxidation process. The MREs aren’t full of preservatives or chemicals, though – it is the processing and packaging that gives them three-year shelf life, Accetta stressed.

The pizza MREs will arrive at the Defense Logistics Agency in March, Smith told Army Times.

It is expected that the pepperoni pizzas will reaching the soldiers by the end of the year.

“They may say they want more pizza or a different kind of pizza,” Accetta said.

“Because the pizza was so widely requested, we tried to accelerate the timeline. People got excited about it, but in the end, we wanted to make sure we got it right,” Smith said.

The reason for the delay with the pizzas was not a testing issue in regard to temperature, but rather from production to industry.

“We want to make sure we give [troops] a quality product,” Natick spokesman David Accetta told Army Times.

Goulash is on the menu for 2019, but soldiers will have to bid farewell to the Asian-style beef strips with vegetables and the beef brisket.

Upcoming menu selections for 2020 include:

  • Italian Sausage in Marinara Sauce
  • High Protein Pudding, Chocolate
  • Recovery Crunchy O Shaped Snack
  • BBQ flavored Recovery Beef Jerky Trail Mix
  • Sweet and Spicy Recovery Salted Caramel Rice and Soy Crisp Bar
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Smoothie