Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

mardi 27 avril 2004

Two Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station (ISS) will soon experiment the Mediet (Mediterranean Diet). The Mediet uses only top quality Mediterranean products and will demonstrate that the 'fast food' of the 21st century can be delicious and nutritious at the same time. In "Buon appetito: Russian cosmonauts on a Mediterranean diet," the European Space Agency (ESA) tells us more. The ergonomic tray, made of aluminium, contains five items of Mediterranean food from Italy: dried tomatoes, mature cheese, piadina bread (special Italian white bread), peaches and chocolate. If the experiment is successful, you might soon find this kind of tray at your local supermarket.

The Mediet ergonomic tray Here is a picture of the ergonomic tray, with its five delicious items of Mediterranean food from Italy (Credit: International Advanced Center for Space Applications(IACSA)).

How is the food prepared?

The food is individually packaged for convenient consumption in special space flight qualified transparent plastic bags, and in meal-size portions. It is processed using the High Pressure Processing (4000-6000 atu) technology, which is able to eliminate enzymes and bacteria without altering the properties of fresh food. This new method of preservation provides reliable long-term storage at room temperature, and at the same time allows the food to retain nutritional values, taste, texture and colour.
The food inside the bags is either pre-cut into a bite-size pieces (cheese, bread and chocolate), or has such a viscosity that it remains intact in weightlessness: while the cosmonaut picks up a piece with a fork, the rest of the bag content remains in place (tomatoes in oil and peaches in jelly). The cosmonaut cuts open the bag with scissors, and uses a fork to take pieces out of the bag.

During the experiment, one cosmonaut will evaluate the quality of the food, considering such parameters as odour, flavour, texture, colour, and overall appearance. The second cosmonaut will make a video recording of the test. This video material may later be used to illustrate the benefits of the new technology to the expert community and to the general public.

Stay tuned for the appearance of the video -- and of the Mediet!

For more information about how food is prepared for space missions, you can read this former column, "Eating in Space."

Source: European Space Agency, April 26, 2004, via EurekAlert!

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