FORGET Heston and Jamie – the next hit chefs are operating out of North-East Tasmania.
An $18 million upgrade to the Defence Science and Technology Organisation at Scottsdale is due to be completed by the end of next month, and will provide high-taste and high-nutrition meals to the Australian Defence Force.
This year, the facility will churn out 80,000 freeze-dried meals and 175,000 freeze-dried packets of rice for soldiers’ ration packs. It employs 16 scientists and 12 factory contractors.
Yesterday, Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert and Liberal Bass MHR Andrew Nikolic – both of whom served in the army together – took a tour of the site.
‘‘Part of today’s visit is to have the Minister down here to look at the facility and its potential for future growth,’’ Mr Nikolic said.
‘‘We saw some world-leading things here at this facility, for example taking the US first-strike nutritional bar and taking world-leading Australian technology to look at starch and other fibrous compounds out of green bananas to increase the nutritional value of a first-strike bar,’’ Mr Robert said.
‘‘Diggers like eating stuff that tastes fine ... We need to provide food that’s nutritional, that’s high-energy content that can keep our fighting men and women active, but it’s gotta taste really good as well. There are all sorts of opportunities in terms of what we do next with different products and different services.’’ Australian chief defence scientist Alex Zelinsky said the facility was first utilised as a food production site in World War II.
The visit was the first stop on a tour of Northern Tasmania’s defence sites, with the minister also stopping off at the Centre for Food Innovation and the Paterson Barracks.
INSIDE THE RATION PACKS
The DTSO at Scottsdale produces freeze-dried rice and meals – think curries and pastas – particularly for those soldiers who are on patrols and need a lighter ration pack.
The packs contain between 18,000 and 19,000 kilojoules and include foods like muesli, soup, tuna, instant noodles, and sports drinks, and for dessert, there are chocolate bars, Lifesavers and Skittles.