By Denis Korn
I want to commend Oregon Freeze Dry for exposing the misrepresentations and erroneous claims that have been alleged by Wise Foods for some time. Those of us who have been manufacturers of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods for over 30 years (I founded AlpineAire Foods in 1979) always knew that the shelf life and other claims made by these newly formed preparedness food companies were misleading, inaccurate and unethical.
Below is the press release from Oregon Freeze Dry that was released July 12th and comments from the current management at AlpineAire Foods that deals with the concerns that the established preparedness food companies such as Oregon Freeze Dry, AlpineAire Foods, Backpackers Pantry, Richmoor and others have about questionable claims made by emerging so-called long term food companies.
For established and reputable preparedness food companies, it is important that our industry maintain credibility and an honest representation of the unique food products that we offer. I have been a retailer and manufacturer of specialized foods for preparedness and outdoor recreation for over 37 years. Myself and other established industry professionals that I have talked with have been very concerned about the quality of ingredients, deceptive claims and misinformation presented by the start-ups and the “me-too” food businesses. In addition to the manufacturers, there is the unfortunate situation of the 1000’s of brand new dealers who continue to perpetrate the faulty claims and facts.
I sincerely want to encourage and applaud the conscientious and reputable manufacturers and dealers who do offer quality foods and accurate and reliable information.
The common threads that connects the new “me-too” preparedness food companies are: foods are offered in pouches, claims of 20-25 year shelf life, meals are called freeze-dried although they contain no – or miniscule amounts of – freeze-dried ingredients, meals are publicized by number of servings, they are often promoted by unsuspecting popular radio talk show hosts.
The issues of concern are as follows:
- The shelf life claims were fabricated with no evidence or proof. Numbers were created for marketing purposes only. The two greatest factors effecting shelf life in foil pouched foods is oxygen content and storage temperature. Claiming a 25 year shelf life for pouched foods – by any preparedness company – is unethical, baseless and reprehensible!
- The ingredients are of low quality and rely on flavor enhancers and other questionable components.
- The calories per serving are so low that the number of servings required to sustain you in an emergency are significantly misrepresented. This means that the cost of what you think you are buying – foods for a given amount of time – is actually much higher.
- Calories for many foods and drinks come from sugar – not a source of quality nutrition.
- Although represented as gourmet or outstanding, the taste of most foods is marginal to poor.
- Many foods require cooking – not a recommended requirement in emergency situations.
- Many other marketing claims and statements are exaggerated, embellished or simply false.
I have been concerned about these issues for some time, and I hope the revelations revealed by the Oregon Freeze Dry (Mountain House brand) press release will alert preparedness planners to be more vigilant in their research and food buying decisions.
Here are links to previous posts I have written that are of significant value in assisting the food purchasing process.
Press release and AlpineAire comments:
IMPORTANT UPDATE – AUGUST: Here is a link to the chart that shows the results of the specific Mountain House and Wise products that were tested.
NOTE: AlpineAire Foods uses the same technology as Mountain House to produce very low residual oxygen levels.
MOUNTAIN HOUSE EDUCATES CONSUMERS ON THE PRESENCE OF HIGH OXYGEN CONTENT IN COMPETITOR’S PRODUCTS
Third party study finds oxygen in competitor’s products at more than nine times the recommended level
ALBANY, Ore. – July 12, 2012 – Mountain House, the leading domestic brand of freeze-dried food, released the results today of a study designed to illustrate how different brands handle oxygen levels in their long-term food storage products. The study, conducted by Columbia Food Laboratories, focused on oxygen levels found in pouches of Mountain House freeze-dried foods compared to those of a competitor.
“For proper long-term food storage, it’s important to maintain oxygen exposure as low as possible,” said Lee Goin, laboratory director at Columbia Food Laboratories. “Oxygen causes rancidity in foods containing unsaturated fats. Even slight rancidity can make a food undesirable. Oxygen causes nutritional value to be lost, especially vitamins A, C, D and E. Removal of oxygen will kill any insects, larvae and their eggs that may to be present.”
Consumers should be aware that there are four main contributors to food spoilage: water, heat, light, and oxygen. Freeze drying removes 98% of the water in food, while dehydrating removes between 80% and 97%. Storing food in a cool, dark place helps to avoid heat and light exposure. However, the fourth factor, oxygen, can only be averted through quality processing and packaging, which is where the study found competitor’s products falling short.
“Our curiosity was piqued when we saw brands such as Wise Company implying that their pouches have up to a 25-year shelf life, which is rarely found in pouches of freeze-dried foods,” commented Norm Jager, head of research and development for Mountain House. “Freeze-dried meals serve families in times of dire need when emergencies hit, which means that it’s imperative that these foods deliver on the promises made. So instead of just sitting on the sidelines, we decided to test their products in an effort to educate consumers across the U.S. on the importance of oxygen, which should ideally be less than 2 percent for long term food storage.”
Oxygen Levels in Wise Company Products were 110 Times Higher Than Mountain House
Mountain House commissioned Columbia Food Laboratories to test 30 samples of dehydrated and freeze dried meals from Wise Company as well as 30 samples of comparable Mountain House freeze dried meals. The results were staggering. Average oxygen levels in Wise Company products were 18.25%, nearly the 21% level found in the atmosphere and 110 times higher than the average 0.16% oxygen found in Mountain House products. The most alarming part is that Wise Company products were manufactured in April of 2012 and already exhibit near-atmospheric levels of oxygen, which would not provide a 25-year shelf life…
Comments from AlpineAire when sent a copy of Oregon Freeze Dry release:
Ha, this is classic and something we have questioned as well.
Our products are tested in house for all Lot #’s as produced and periodically through 3rd party analysis and our oxygen content is below 2%.
We produce for the military under strict O2 tolerances.
We also have been doing this 30 plus years and that is why we conservatively and accurately state our shelf life below some of these new “pop up” companies that diluting the market and misinforming customers.