Monday, May 25, 2015

Ultimate Survival Technologies 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Ration Bars

I'm glad to announce another guest post from the Realist:
 The front of an UST Emergency Food
Ration Bar package

A couple months ago, my local Walmart started selling UST emergency food ration bars for five dollars each. This was the first time I had seen emergency food bars like this sold in a major retail outlet. In the past, I had only seen them sold mail-order or in a specialty store.

Since I first saw them at Walmart, I have bought a few of them to add to my long-term food storage. During a recent trip to Walmart, I decided to buy a few more, and discovered that one of the packages on the shelf had lost its vacuum seal (more on this later). Since I knew it was fresh stock, instead of putting the damaged package back on the shelf, I decided to buy it and actually try them out. (Yes, I know. I should have tried one out first before buying several packages.)

The UST emergency food ration bars are manufactured in the U.S. by Mayday Industries, who have been selling emergency food ration bars under their own name for many years.

Each 2400 calorie bar is scored to be broken into six individual servings of 400 calories each. Each serving contains 18 grams of fat (including 9 grams of saturated fat), 54 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The manufacturer claims their emergency food ration bars have a five year shelf life. (From previous research on this type of emergency food ration bar, that is five years storage in a harsh environment, and not five years in a dark cool room.) Here is the Mayday web page on their 2400 calorie food bar, which looks identical to the UST product:

A food ration bar before it has been broken into individual servings.
The food bar appears to have been baked, but is very crumbly when broken and eaten. As described on the package, it has a mild apple cinnamon flavor, and is not quite as sweet as a shortbread. The bar is very dry, and while not thirst provoking, it is best consumed with a drink of some sort. I was mildly hungry when I started eating it, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the one serving left me feeling full and satisfied. In contrast, 400 calories of cookies or candy would have left me craving more.

As eluded to above, each food bar is vacuum sealed in a heavy laminated plastic-foil package. While this packaging is quite impervious to a variety of contaminants, it is surprisingly fragile. The vacuum process leaves sharp corners and bends in the packaging material, and trying to flatten out a crease or bend for better storage in an emergency kit can create a pin-hole breach of the material, causing the package to loose its vacuum. When this happens, air and moisture will be let in, dramatically shortening the shelf-life of the food bar.

If you loose vacuum while handling the package, I would recommend eating it soon as practical. If you don't know when the vacuum was lost, either carefully inspect the food (check to see if it is rancid, moldy, or mushy) before eating it or discard it.

The package on the left has lost its vacuum. Note the sharp textures visible on the package on the right relative to the package on the left that has lost its vacuum.
Previously, I had put similarly vacuum packed Datrex emergency food ration bars in the emergency kit in my vehicle. To reduce the risk of compromising the vacuum, I carefully wrapped each package in several layers of heavy plastic cling wrap and packing tape (tape over the cling wrap to reinforce corners and edges) to immobilize the vacuum packaging. Don't be surprised if you compromise the vacuum on one of the food bars while trying to immobilize the vacuum packaging - I lost one that way, and I was being careful. I just checked (at the time of this writing), and after two-and-a-half years bouncing around in the emergency kit in the back of my vehicle, the vacuum packaging on the Datrex bars is still intact.

Since there is no practical way to close the packaging after it has been opened, I would recommend including one or more one-gallon zip-lock freezer bags to store any uneaten portion of the food bar. Zip-lock freezer bags can serve numerous other purposes in an emergency kit, too.

There is a lot to be said for an emergency food source that has a long shelf life, is tolerant of less than ideal storage conditions, can be eaten without preparation, and doesn't cost a small fortune. As an added bonus, it is available at Walmart for a very reasonable price. Try one out. I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised and want to add some of these emergency food ration bars to your emergency preparations.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

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