SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: January 27, 2004
CarboPack restores energy
NATICK, Mass. -- Extra energy for strenuous military operations is now conveniently supplied with the Carbohydrate Supplement Pack, or CarboPack, developed at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here.
The CarboPack contains one carbohydrate-rich bar and two packages of flavored carbohydrate-electrolyte sports beverage powder to mix two eight-ounce servings, and is intended to complement current and future military rations.
“Studies show that Soldiers in intense, prolonged physical activity for more than three hours need the calories beyond what’s provided in rations,” said Julie Edwards, a food technologist at the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate here. “Most of what they need is provided in their rations. This is designed to make up the difference in calorie needs during prolonged exercise.”
The CarboPack adds another 400 calories to the battlefield diet. By comparison, a day’s worth of Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) is more than 3,600 calories. Research that went into the CarboPack will give troops a product that’s proven to perform while saving troops money.
“We identified a need because Soldiers were buying their own bars and drinks,” Edwards said, which opened up potential pitfalls. “By providing soldiers with the right products we can decrease the chances that the Soldier will bring the wrong type of item to the field with them that may potentially hurt their performance.”
Combat Feeding’s Individual Combat Ration Team, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick, Office of the Surgeon General and Army Center of Excellence Subsistence worked together on product guidelines.
The drink mix is similar to Gatorade, with a combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates meeting military specifications, according to Edwards, and has a lower sugar content than an MRE mix. Fruit punch, grape, orange and lemon-lime flavors were chosen because they are the most popular for this type of beverage, and each CarboPack holds two different flavors.
Each mix is stored in a trilaminate pouch with a tear-off top used to pour in water, shake and drink so warfighters can avoid using a separate drink holder, such as their canteen cup.
A resealable drink pouch was one of the recommendations of Soldiers from Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Polk, La., who participated in focus groups and evaluations, and is in development, Edwards said.
The drink pouches are folded over twice and fit inside another trilaminate pouch along with the bar wrapped in the original manufacturer’s package.
Chocolate and apple cinnamon HooAH!, and oatmeal-raisin and chocolate bars similar to Gatorade and PowerBar brands were chosen as the energy bars because of their nutritional content, acceptability rating in taste-testing and ability to reach at least a two-year shelf life, Edwards said.
All three types in their respective flavors will be represented in the CarboPacks. Having a variety of products and flavors for the drinks and bars helps increase acceptability and consumption, she said.
HooAH! is a creation of the Combat Feeding food scientists and is getting another opportunity to be fielded as a new commercial manufacturer has picked up the production.
Another product evaluated was commercial gels, but they were a concern of the Soldiers because the gels would burst inside their full rucksacks, Edwards said. They will be considered again when the packaging of the product has improved.
The first 42,000 CarboPacks are scheduled for delivery to Iraq in January after receiving an urgent request last July for the product from the 101st Airborne Division and 3rd Corps Support Command.
For more information on the Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at http://www.natick.army.mil.