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Army asks for volunteers to eat nothing but MRE’s

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, December 31, 2015, 8:46 PM

A 2009 file photo shows "meals, ready-to-eat" (MRE's) getting unloaded at a military supply convoy at the U.S. Marine base in Baqwa, Afghanistan. The Army is currently conducting a study of its MRE's.John Moore/Getty Images

A 2009 file photo shows “meals, ready-to-eat” (MRE’s) getting unloaded at a military supply convoy at the U.S. Marine base in Baqwa, Afghanistan. The Army is currently conducting a study of its MRE’s.

The Army wants YOU — to test its rations.

The Natick, Mass.-based Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine has offered up to $ 200 for anyone willing to subsist on nothing but so-called “meals, ready-to-eat” (MREs), the Army Times reported Thursday.

The institute’s military nutrition division is looking for 60 volunteers to try the vacuum-sealed food and drink consumed by soldiers in the field. Researchers are studying how the Army’s MREs affect digestive bacteria, called gut bacteria, that may benefit overall health and fight food poisoning, study head Dr. J. Philip Karl told the Times.

“We think we can manipulate the bacteria in a way that helps the bacteria fight foreign pathogens — things that could cause food-borne illness, for example,” Karl said. “Oftentimes, war fighters are overseas and they eat something off the local economy that can cause distress. Potentially, what we could do by increasing the amount of beneficial gut bacteria is to help prevent some of that.”

Half the study participants will be asked to eat only MREs, water and black coffee — no alcohol allowed — and the other half will keep their regular diets. Willing MRE samplers must live near the Boston-area facility and more information on how to apply is available on the Army’s website.

Study participants will be able to choose among offerings like “canteen Irish cream latte,” “Bunker Hill burritos,” and “Fort Bliss-ful pudding cake.” Army dietician Adrienne Hatch told the Times she has heard some bad things about MREs from troops but “working with this cookbook project has shown me a lot about what the MRE can offer.”

Some commenters on the Times’ article said they’d like to sign up for the study, while others weren’t so sure about the culinary merit of MREs.

A FEB. 6, 2014 PHOTOSteven Senne/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A February 2014 photo shows prototype pizza slices developed for MRE’s at the Natick, Mass.-based Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine after numerous requests for pizza from soldiers in the field.

“How much does it pay? I’m not eating that crap for free,” one user wrote.

“Hell, I already did that in ’03,” another one said.

Soldiers serving that year had it great, a third user countered.

“MREs from the ’80s sucked,” the commenter said. “What they have now is awesome compared to what I ate (and got food poisoning from once).”

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