Retortable Laminate/Polymeric Food Tubes for Specialized Feeding
Final technical rept. Jun 2010-Jun 2012
RUTGERS - THE STATE UNIV NEW BRUNSWICK NJ CENTER FOR ADVANCED FOOD TECHNOLOGY
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Food tube rations are a special customer order, limited production item used by U.S. Air Force pilots for through-the-mask feeding on demanding, long range, high altitude reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence collection missions. The aluminum tubes currently used for this application are made from extruded aluminum and are both expensive and fragile since the seal is easily compromised. In recent years, the quality and workmanship of these critical aluminum tube blanks has degraded. The proposed transition to retortable laminatepolymeric LP tubes will eliminate the source concerns, as well as provide additional performance advantages. The LP tube needs to hold 5 ounces of product, be able to fit in the U-2 heating system and be used in-flight by the pilot through the helmet feeding straw. The shelf-life requirements for the product are a minimum of three years at 80 degrees F. The prototype tubes should be based on commercial off-the-shelf materials and not military unique. A market survey of commercially available laminated tubes revealed that they are all based on polyethylene inner and outer layers and not suitable for retort processing. These tubes are commonly used for toothpaste dispensing. There are polypropylene extruded tubes commercially available, but do not meet the shelf-life criteria, unless they are over wrapped in aluminum foil. Also, these tubes are stiff, do not collapse and suck- back on the product. Commercial liquid foods, such as baby foods and nutritional drinks are sometimes packed in spouted pouches. This project investigated the possibility using this type container for the U-2 program. Two prototype containers were developed, one based on pillow type pouch that is filled from the opposite side of the spout and one based on a gusseted pouch that is filled through the spout. The size limitation of the U-2 heating system eliminated the first prototype due to its longer length. The second prototype is still under evaluation.
- Food, Food Service and Nutrition
- Containers and Packaging