Wornick Foods, Cincinnati, a manufacturer of convenience foods and customized meal solutions, will undertake a new initiative to commercialize microwave-assisted thermal sterilization technology (MATS). MATS is a newly developed process for sterilizing foods, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, that can dramatically improve food quality over traditional food processing techniques.

"Wornick Foods is uniquely equipped to support the commercialization of new food stabilization technologies," says Jon Geisler, Wornick’s president and CEO. "This initiative deploys the significant investment that we have already made in product development and engineering resources.  Our existing equipment assets and strategic focus on commercializing value-added, flexibly packaged shelf-stable foods is aligned well with the benefits of the MATS initiative." 

Members include Hormel, Kraft, Frito-Lay

Wornick Foods joined the Washington State University Microwave Sterilization Consortium in 2010.  The Consortium includes a number of leading consumer product good companies such as Hormel Foods Corp., Kraft Foods Global Inc., Nestlé, Frito-Lay North America and Bush Brothers & Co., together with the U.S. Army, Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NATICK).  The FDA approved the microwave sterilization process for a product developed by the Consortium in 2009.

NATICK provides essential services and development resources to maximize combat effectiveness of U.S. soldiers.  Wornick Foods has been a leading supplier of individual and group feeding rations to the U.S. military, supplying MREs to the U.S. military since the inception of the program in 1978.

"With our focus on moving food forward, we have helped the U.S. military provide tastier, healthier food options to our troops," Geisler says. "We are confident that our continued efforts to deploy new technologies like MATS and continued focus on improving food quality will increase the market potential for the convenience-driven products that we make."

MATS is the topic of a presentation at the upcoming 2011 Food Packaging Technologies Summit, to be held June 7-9 in St. Louis, managed by Packaging Strategies.