An innovative food processing system, one that could obviate the need for all those additives consumers don’t like, is about to come online in 2017.
I can’t wait.
The developer of this exciting, breakthrough technology announced that the new system would “minimize the damage that comes from long heat times and eliminating the need for unnatural additives and enhancers” — while “maximizing the natural flavor and quality,” of course.
“This new technology has the potential to be one of the most important advancements in food processing technology,” said Zac Zeitlin (actual name), whose objective perspective isn’t at all influenced by the fact that he’s the managing partner of the company funding this revolutionary new food technology.
Okay, by now, like me, you’re probably dying to know more about this revolutionary breakthrough that is going to transform the way that the industry processes food products. So here it is: The MATS-150, state-of-the-art energy delivery system that both heats and sterilizes food.
Most of us know it by its more common name: A microwave.
Really? Yes, really.
The driving force behind this publicity (allegedly) is America’s insatiable desire for “clean labels” — which presumes that Americans have an insatiable desire to read any of those clean labels.
Kindly stated, that is debatable.
For most of us, a clean label means that the second or third item on the ingredient panel — after “sugar,” that is — shouldn’t require a PhD in chemistry to figure out how toxic it might be for a three-year old to consume the entire package.
Not exactly sure how “microwaved for your protection” pushes the envelope on marketing mass-produced, ready-to-eat convenience foods that have to taste great, reduce calories and be “an important part of a healthy (fill-in-the-blank-whichever-meal-is-on-deck).”
Nevertheless, 915 Labs, the developer of this revolutionary Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization technology, is headlining its breakthrough as delivering “First-of-a-Kind Packaged Foods with Exceptional Quality, Better Nutrition and Dramatically Lower Salt Content.”
What? The MATS 915 system doesn’t provide the daily recommended amounts of nine essential nutrients needed for optimal health and well-being?
But my favorite line in the company’s gushing news release is its ability to “transform the CPG sector.”
I figured CPG might be some inside-baseball investment term, like ROI or EPS.
No, it stands for “Consumer Packaged Goods.”
And I thought I was as wonky as the next commentator when it came to food industry slang.
I thought wrong.
Yes, the CPG sector is about to be transformed by this incredible 21st century techno marvel, as our friends at MATS 915 confirmed, in “the possibility of [creating] a wide range of healthful, packaged, shelf-stable foods.”
So what can we look forward to being able to buy in 2017, thanks to a transformed CPG sector?
I’ll quote from the news release: “Pastas, rice dishes, vegetable soups, spicy Indian dishes and gourmet ready-to-eat meals.”
Wow. I don’t know if I can hang on for another two years, because you sure can’t find any of those “gourmet meals” at any supermarket I’m aware of.
Kidding aside, the application of microwave processing might eventually result in shelf-stable products that weren’t subjected to retort processing. I’m referring to the pasta sauces, beef stews and chili products we’ve been purchasing for, oh, the last century or so. They come packaged in cans, jars or more recently, shelf-stable pouches and trays.
And then we take those products home and subject them to “an energy delivery system that both heats and sterilizes the food.”
It’s called microwaving.
And that would constitute a breakthrough technology, if only we could flip the calendar back to when Dick Nixon was in the White House … as Vice President.
C’mon, MATS 915. We get it that you’re hoping to sell some commercial microwave systems for food processors seeking a marketing edge they can bolster with high-powered advertising.
But your news release is targeted to professionals in the industry, not some clueless consumer who might be impressed with shiny packaging, bright colors and a “clean label.”
Give us a little credit.
Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator.