Improved rations for soldiers will be produced using new innovative technology at food research centres in northern Tasmania.
The Australian Government has announced that it plans to invest $7.2 million in an innovative processing technology that will be used to manufacture high-quality combat rations.
According to the media release by Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, a Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilisation (MATS) research and development plant will be established within the Defence Food and Nutrition Centre in Scottsdale along with a production facility in Launceston.
“The MATS process is an innovative new food preparation method that uses state-of-the-art rapid sterilisation techniques to create shelf-stable, ready-to-eat meals required by Defence personnel,” Minister Payne said.
“Microwave-sterilised meals have the potential to improve the production and quality of readymade foods across both Defence rations and the wider commercial market, both nationally and within the Asia-Pacific region.’’
The Centre for Food Innovation is a collaboration between DSTG, the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.
“Tasmania is renowned for its clean and green agriculture industry and the new technology has the potential to create an innovative new food production sector, with benefits for local producers and consumers.”
Member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic, said he had championed for increased investment in DSTG’s Scottsdale facility for the past five years.
“This new technology, which I have advocated for over a number of years, will improve the quality of rations available for our troops, enable the provision of food in support of humanitarian contingencies, and has commercialisation potential as well,’’ Mr Nikolic said.
According to the Centre’s Director Professor Roger Stanley, soldiers will be eating the improved ration foods in two years, after the production facility is established in 2017.
“The MATS process is about sterilizing or pasteurizing food, so you don’t have to freeze it and you can simply heat and eat it,” Professor Stanley said.
“This is a major project that opens up significant opportunities in food processing in Tasmania. The University, through the Centre, will first be assisting Defence in the development of products for defence personnel. In the longer term, we are looking at working on the development of stabilized foods for export.”