Soup rockets to space on new formulation

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Arla

A soup that is edible under weightless conditions marks the latest
food science formulation to head into space.

Nissin Food Products announced that its newly developed instant noodle product Space Ram was loaded on the space shuttle Discovery and went into space last month.

Based on the company's long-selling product Cup Noodle, Space Ram - available in soy sauce, miso, curry and pork bones - was co-developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Standing up to the harsh conditions in space, the firm claims the soup powder has been made with increased viscosity and can be cooked in water at 70 degrees Celsius.

Space travel projects has, for decades, accelerated food science discoveries.

Understanding the most extreme conditions for food products has already brought gains for product formulation on Earth, and to innovative food firms opting to invest in ambitious development areas.

Danish food firm Arla Food Ingredients, for example, recently developed a new yoghurt for consumption by NASA's astronauts.

The dairy ingredients supplier worked with US food technologists at the Johnson Space Centre to design safe, health-promoting, lightweight foods.

When the expedition 11 crew took off to the International Space Station in mid-April, Arla's fruit flavoured yoghurts were on board.

Working with such radically different criteria gave us the opportunity to learn more about product development, and crucially the impact of foods on human health, Carsten Hallund Slot, project manager at Arla Foods Innovation told FoodNavigator.com.

At zero gravity (space conditions) the body demineralises, resulting in bone and muscle loss. For astronauts this happens fast, as much as 1 per cent a month, explained Slot, compared to on Earth where bone loss occurs when we grow old. Between 50 and 60 years of age we experience 10 per cent of bone loss.

"For Arla, a food company with expertise in dairy foods, space exploration created new challenges: as well as the opportunity to expand our knowledge by pushing forward our understanding of bioactive compounds,"​ adds Slot.

In parallel to the yoghurt formulation, Arla's own space exploration involved investigations on separating milk into different peptides, and then "putting these back" into freshly designed products.

The firm has come up with 'milk bites' for the astronauts; essentially a chewy, bite-size protein bar that gives the space travellers a dose of calcium and protein.

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