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by Mountain House February 16, 2015

Mountain House Educates Consumers: When Long-Term Emergency Food Isn't

Third party study finds wide range of oxygen levels in popular brands

Albany, Ore. – February 16, 2015 –Mountain House, the best-selling brand of camping, backpacking, and emergency preparedness meals, released results today of a recent study designed to inform consumers how popular brands of emergency meals manage oxygen levels, a critical element in long term emergency food. This information is increasingly important as consumers continue to move from tried-and-true #10 cans to flexible pouches. The study, conducted by Fres-co System USA, Inc., tested the oxygen levels found in Mountain House pouches as well as those of six other brands.

Low oxygen levels with little or no variation from pouch to pouch are key indicators of both good process control and packaging integrity (other key indicators include: moisture, heat, and light). Oxygen degrades shelf life in foods by oxidizing fats and oils. This oxidation causes rancidity and unpalatable off-flavors. The presence of oxygen also depletes food of valuable vitamins A, C, D and E.

“Prolonged exposure to oxygen will cause most foods to become rancid within six months to two years, depending on ambient levels,” said Drew Huebsch, R&D manager for Mountain House. “For truly long term storage of food – measured in decades – our research indicates that oxygen levels should be below 3 percent. United States Military specifications go even further, requiring oxygen levels to be below 2 percent.”

Four of the tested brands sell pouches of long term food with a claimed shelf life of fifteen to twenty-five years: National Geographic, Legacy Premium, Food Supply Depot, and Wise Company food storage. Three additional brands sell camping and backpacking meals often used in emergency “bug out” situations, with a claimed shelf life of five to twelve years: Backpacker’s Pantry, AlpineAire, and Mountain House.

O2 Graphs


The study measured the oxygen levels inside 30 pouches from each brand. Only Mountain House pouches maintained an oxygen level of less than 3 percent in all cases, with an average oxygen level of 1.42 percent. This bests the U.S. military specification of less than 2 percent oxygen. All other brands had average oxygen levels above 3 percent. Food Supply Depot fared the least favorable with near atmospheric average levels of oxygen at 17.76 percent.

The study also tested for variation of oxygen levels from pouch to pouch, a measure of reliability and process control. Mountain House again came out on top with a standard deviation of 0.3. The closest competitor, Backpacker’s Pantry, had a standard deviation of 2.4, or more than 8.1 times that of Mountain House. At the bottom of the list was Wise Company’s survival food at 8.4, representing a variability of 28.2 times greater than Mountain House.

“We’ve been making Mountain House for nearly 50 years,” says Reiner Bohlen, Marketing Manager at Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc., the parent company of Mountain House. “You don’t become the gold standard in outdoor meals and emergency food storage unless you make products consumers know they can trust to taste great, no matter what. We commissioned this study to see where we stand in the market and help determine where we could possibly make improvements. We want to make sure we continue to deliver on our promises.”

Brands were chosen based on brand awareness in either the outdoor adventure or emergency preparedness segments. All foods tested consisted of dehydrated and/or freeze dried foods that are prepared by just adding water.

Link to study data

About Mountain House

Based in Albany, Ore., Mountain House has been the first choice of backpackers, hikers, campers and emergency preparation experts for nearly 50 years. Why? Great taste, ease of use and reliability, no matter how extreme the environment. As a result, Mountain House commands more than 70 percent of the outdoor freeze dried meal market according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Their line of meals in pouches have a proven shelf life of 12+ years. Foods in their #10 cans have a proven shelf life of 25+ years. For more information and a complete list of products, visit www.mountainhouse.com.

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