Ministry of Defence
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Troops work up an appetite for new rations

Troops work up an appetite for new rations

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE News Release (026/2009) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 5 February 2009

Traditional biscuits brown and corned beef hash are to be replaced with new products in ration packs distributed to front-line troops this summer.

Over 300,000 of the new 24-hour Multi-Climate Rations (MCR) will roll off Vestey Food's UK production line to be trialled by deployed troops. They will feast on more suitable pasta lunchtime pouches, cookies and energy bars that replace some of the more traditional components of ration packs.

The MCR trial will also include the introduction of 20 new menus for general use, plus six new menus for vegetarian, Halal, and Sikh/Hindu dietary requirements.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:

"One of the most important requirements is to provide increased variety to troops operating for long periods on rations, which will help reduce menu fatigue. These new menus have been developed to meet the needs of service personnel operating in the extreme climates of Afghanistan and Iraq, providing them with a wider range of nutritionally balanced meals."

The contents of the MCR ration packs has been heavily influenced by feedback from troops from all three services, including those who have experienced eating existing Operational Ration Packs (ORP) for long periods while on the front line. The severe and demanding conditions include temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius.

Food selection panels were conducted in May 2008 to select products for the new MCR and included soldiers from the Household Calvary Regiment, who have recently returned from operations.

Captain Paul Cunningham of the Defence Food Services project team said:

"The food served to our soldiers, sailors and airmen is well-balanced, nutritious and plentiful and, in the main camps, the majority of our troops eat freshly prepared hot and cold meals, cooked by professional skilled chefs, using a wide range of commercial rations including fresh fruit and vegetables. However, in the remote areas in Afghanistan and Iraq, away from the main camps, it is not always possible to provide meals cooked by chefs from raw ingredients.

"Under these circumstances we currently provide a range of ten general purpose (or 5 vegetarian, halal, sikh/hindu) ration packs that are issued with supplements to reflect the weather. The new Multi-Climate Ration trial will double the amount of available menus and remove the need for supplements.

"We have lots of new items in the rations and I am convinced these will be very popular with our troops."

The in-theatre trials will begin in May and run until October 2009. The MCR trial will help inform the long term future of menus for 24 hour ORP in Hot Climates for summer 2010 and beyond, as part of the continuing process of improving operational rations.

Notes to Editors:

1. For further information contact Lisa Murphy of the DE&S press office on 07810 237 923 or David Hunter in the MoD Press Office on 0207 2182165.

2. The MCR trial will run from May - October 2009 and follow on from the Hot Climate supplements currently in-theatre from May this year

3. The MCR ration underlines the strong focus within DE&S to support troops on operations.

4. The ration pack has evolved following the success of the Hot Climate Supplements (HCS) that have been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq over the last two summers.

Interesting Ration Pack Facts:

The table below highlights a few of the major changes between the 24 hr GP and MCR Trial ration.


Chocolate Bars


Biscuits Brown

Biscuits Fruit

Corned Beef Hash

Treacle Pudding

Oat Biscuit

Powdered Soup


Energy Bars

Pasta Lunchtime Pouches

Shrewsbury Biscuits

Ginger Biscuits


Rice Pudding

Various Fruits in a Pouch

Ready-made soups in a Retort Pouch

Oreo Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cake

Numerous drink flavourings

Dental Chewing Gum

The nutritional make up of the ration has been evaluated by DSTL using the Military Dietary Reference Values (MDRV) for Hot Climate ORP. Each menu contains at least 4000 Kcals, which is the scientifically determined level, recommended for hot environments. The table below details the macro-nutrient levels required.

Energy/nutrient          MDRV: Hot Climate ORP
      Energy                   Minimum: 4000 kcal (16.7 MJ)
      Carbohydrate             Minimum: 550g Minimum: 55% of daily energy
                               intake Estimated as 6.7g.kg1 (BM)a
      Fat                      About 30% of daily energy intake (133g)
      Protein                  100 to 120g 10 to 12% of energy intake
                               Estimated as 1.2 to 1.5 g.kg1 (BM)aThe
                               lower value should be used during periods
                               of restricted intake 

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