Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Discussions about US MREs and other US rations
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Synthpeter
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Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by Synthpeter » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:09 am

So, this is more a generic ration question, not just about MREs in particular, but I also assume there are differences between ration types.
Maybe this has been asked/answered before, but I couldn't find anything after a quick search.

Let's assume what we're eating is actually "fresh" as far as rations go. And when I say fresh I don't mean "fresh" by Steve 1989 standards, but actually within best-before dates, ration was stored properly, etc.
I recall reading something about Spanish rations not being recommended for consumption for more than 30 consecutive days and I'm sure there are other guidelines for other nations.
So the question is of course "why? and what if?", so that's 2 questions actually, but related :)

I assume there's a bucket-load of preservatives and other weird stuff in all the rations which makes them bad to live off of.
Sure, you might need nutritional supplements as well and a varying diet is always good to play it safe, but I can't imagine that's the only reason you shouldn't keep eating nothing but rations for extended periods.

I'm not sure this is the right place to ask, seeing as we're all happily munching down rations, but also I assume some of you are well informed about the actual health hazards that come with it.
Like... Assuming the rations are good, you don't get tired of them and you don't exceed the daily recommended calory intake etc, would you have a ration every day (or feed this to your kid) every day? If not, why?
Is there any info about it somewhere?

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by wats6831 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:28 am

I think your questions about rations fit within the over arching questions/issues surrounding processed food in general. A ration, by it's definition, is not meant for general consumption over long time periods, but only in extenuating circumstances (emergencies, etc). This assumption is supported by the fact that many rations include some kind of vitamin supplement (or even a fiber supplement). This implies that even based solely on nutritional needs, rations alone probably aren't suitable for long term daily consumption to meet basic dietary needs.

These products are nearly ALL heavily processed foods, which of course means lots of preservatives, among other things. There is also an emerging body of science surrounding the whole BPA/chemical discussion. Thereby it cannot be a good thing to have an entree (particularly an acidic one say tomato based) sitting in a retort pouch for years, and/or heating in the retort pouch, much the same way there is concern about certain plastics (eg water bottles), and heating/leaching of chemicals into the food product. There is likely all kinds of things leaching or present in the food, simply due to the container that must be used to maintain the shelf life.

I think in the end it boils down to the same message we get about other types of environmental risks: use the product as it's intended, in moderation, and avoid when possible.
Last edited by housil on Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Unnecessary quote deleted

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Synthpeter
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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by Synthpeter » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:10 pm

To clarify, my question really wasn't about eating rations ONLY, but regularly as part of your everyday diet.
Say you have oatmeal and orange juice for breakfast, maybe a crispy fresh tuna salad with beans and feta cheese for lunch, and an MRE for dinner. (And similar but varying meals+MRE every day.)
I have a feeling that would still be a problem and that it might still be worse than replacing every MRE with a fast-food meal such as pizza or McDonald's or whatever, but I don't know :)
So it's not the lack of nutrition I'm after as much as the additives you might not normally see in consumer food. But yeah. I hear what you're saying.
wats6831 wrote:I think in the end it boils down to the same message we get about other types of environmental risks: use the product as it's intended, in moderation, and avoid when possible.
Of course, yet here we are, breaching at least two of those points ;) ...eating them as quick-meals, sometimes for convenience, sometimes for fun, not really avoiding them.

We also buy heavily processed food with considerably shorter shelf-life, most notably various sausages and cold-cuts.
These are boiled, smoked, salted, whatever with "meat-glue" and what not, as well as stored cold, with lots of nitrates and other weird things added to them, but they still don't stay good for more than a month or so, in some cases a few months, but you get the idea. Nowhere near the 10 years rations can be good for. So I can only assume rations are more heavily processed to cope with longer storage times.
Also I assume that since they're not intended to be consumed by the public, the regulations are less strict, it's really not that important/required to perform studies regarding health impacts, and equally important not sharing the findings with the consumers. It's all military business :) So I guess that's why I'm asking :P
Or have there been any studies performed on people eating rations for extended periods with results available?
Just curious :)

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by [ex-Member1] » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:16 pm

Rations are emergency food (emergency like eat this so you don't die from starvation) not something you should consume on regular basics. I don't even get dissapointed by any ration because I already have low standards in the start, it only can amaze me how good it is, but not how bad it is.

And also you cant talk about rations in general because there are big differences between some countries and the way they prepare food. One thing that bothers me the most in this is how other people roll their eyes on me asking me how can I eat this. I will get poisoned. I will die. And in the same time they drink coca-cola or some instant coffee that has like 3% of coffee in it, or while eating pork that could be one of those horror meats from Belgium high on antibiotics with MRSA infections. Or chewing on some exotic fruit that seasoned on some transport ship traveling months to our stores or sprayed with who knows what. Point is we are already being poisoned by the food and drinks we consume, rations are no worse then mot of so called fresh food.

But if you think about eating parts of different items most of us already is doing that. Instant oatmeal for breakfast, fast food order for lunch, instant lasagna for dinner. Search for 21 days eating MRE from last year. And don't think the reguations are less strict because this is military food.

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by Synthpeter » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:57 pm

Asger wrote:Rations are emergency food (emergency like eat this so you don't die from starvation) not something you should consume on regular basics.
I know, but some people might still do so because they're super convenient and contain everything you need.
Asger wrote:And also you cant talk about rations in general because there are big differences between some countries and the way they prepare food.
Yep, absolutely. I wrote that as well in my first post. Info about specific rations/countries is welcome :)
Asger wrote:One thing that bothers me the most in this is how other people roll their eyes on me asking me how can I eat this. I will get poisoned. I will die. And in the same time they drink coca-cola or some instant coffee that has like 3% of coffee in it, or while eating pork that could be one of those horror meats from Belgium high on antibiotics with MRSA infections. Or chewing on some exotic fruit that seasoned on some transport ship traveling months to our stores or sprayed with who knows what. Point is we are already being poisoned by the food and drinks we consume, rations are no worse then mot of so called fresh food.
I totally agree with you. Just because we're so used to eating whatever comes off the shelf in the supermarket doesn't mean it's harmless or healthier than some components in an MRE.
But still, pound for pound, there's gotta be more preservatives in the rations than in the food we normally eat (on average, but that could vary between individuals of course).
Asger wrote: But if you think about eating parts of different items most of us already is doing that. Instant oatmeal for breakfast, fast food order for lunch, instant lasagna for dinner. Search for 21 days eating MRE from last year.
Yeah that's true. And some people live off of McDonald's burgers and get Creutzfeldt-Jacobs disease. Drink 2 liters of Coca Cola each day and see what happens. Diseases caused by food is getting more attention.
Asger wrote:And don't think the reguations are less strict because this is military food.
Why not? Since it's not meant for "all your life" use and mainly for extraordinary conditions, you could relax the rules a bit if it's necessary.
I'm sure there are areas where the law doesn't apply to military applications, but I honestly have no idea about food regulations so I'm asking and would like to know, not think :)

I'm not really sure where I want to go with this thread. I have a feeling it'll end with "Shut up and stop worrying. Eat with moderation and everything will be fine".
But would just like to bring it up and see what replies I get since there doesn't seem to be much info about it out there.
Guidelines, comparisons to public consumer food, case studies, reports, anything :)

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by housil » Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:56 pm

Asger wrote:Rations are emergency food (emergency
Nowadays rations aren´t just emergency rations as they used to be in WW2. They are designed to feed soldiers in lack of "regular" food by mess halls and have a very balanced nutrition, this is why rations stripping is a problem as it may cause male nutrition.

That guy ate MREs for 21 days:

To me, he din´t drank enough.

Maybe we get the result of that some day:
https://www.armytimes.com/story/militar ... /78011512/

On mil camps, I also eat MREs and other rations for a couple of days and I´m fine allways.

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by Icon » Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:59 pm

I have about 50 odd cases of various MREs, even at one a day would take two years to get thru them all. Not sure it's good for me, but most of what I eat isn't either.

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by Biobrew » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:21 pm

Similar topics have been discussed in earlier threads. I don't think you're going to find reports or studies on occasionally eating rations, because they weren't meant to be used that way.

Eating them as the sole or main part of your diet for greater than 4 to 5 weeks is not recommended due to the high calorie, high sodium, high preservative make up of rations.

Having said that, I don't see why eating them occasionally would be detrimental, as others have said. It's processed food, which we consume in one form or another nearly every day.

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by OtisRNeedleman » Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:39 pm

I don't think there's a whole lot of problem eating rations in addition to a balanced diet, with dairy, fruits, vegetables, etc.

The USMC field feeding standard, for example, is ideally two hot meals daily (breakfast and dinner) with an MRE for lunch, and apparently this is suitable for long-term consumption.

During World War II American troops sometimes had to eat just C-rations for weeks at a time. Other times, the C-rations were supplemented by fresh bread and other perishables as available.

And has been previously said, much of our food is processed anyway.

Personally, if it's a choice between eating rations and eating nothing, I'll take the rations, every time.

So enjoy the rations, as part of a balanced diet.

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Re: Long-term health impact of repeated/extended consumption

Post by Conrad » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:34 pm

I can't imagine that eating only MREs EVER, with nothing else could possibly be a good idea, but you could say the same for eating nothing but fast food, which is probably worse, or having some sort of odd very restricted diet long term.

Occasional use is probably no worse than eating other highly processed foods.

I hope so anyway, as Intend to review all 24 current US MREs in order 1-24 and document it, mainly for my own interest and entertainment . It will most likely take me about 12 weeks

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