Results from the field evaluations, combined with recommendations by Natick Soldier Center scientists, were presented for approval to the Joint Service Operational Rations Forum, which included representatives from all of the Armed Services, in February 2006.
Aylward has noticed changes in warfighter preferences over the years.
"We have seen a trend in the past several years that the warfighters tend to like ethnic foods, sandwich-type items, and eat-on-the-move snack items," said Aylward. "They also are more health conscious and read the food labels. All MRE items have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food label, which includes nutritional information and ingredients."
Aylward said the following items were approved to be included in MREs:
Granola with blueberries or strawberries (just add water and you will have a bowl of granola with milk)
Instant vanilla or chocolate pudding
Toaster pastries, chocolate chip or French toast
Chipotle snack bread
Chocletto's candy (chocolate toffee candy)
Twizzler Nibs (small red licorice candy)
Chocolate-covered coffee beans
Patriotic cookies (sugar cookie with flags/Soldiers imprinted on surface)
Cheez-Its, hot and spicy
Irish Cream flavored coffee
Banana strawberry dairy shake
Salsa verde (condiment)
Splenda packet (sugar substitute)
Some items from previous editions of the MRE will be replaced. Chicken pesto pasta will replace the chicken with cavetelli. Lasagna with vegetables, a vegetarian meal, will replace the vegetarian manicotti.
Combat Feeding Directorate also tries to include commercial-off-the-shelf products in MREs when possible.
"Name brand recognition provides a little bit of home to the warfighter, which especially helps to improve morale,"said Aylward.
According to Aylward, this next version of the MRE will go into production in 2008 and will be available in the field by 2009 or 2010.