Iowa-based Company Makes Soyfoods for Space

March 31st, 2003

AMES, Iowa — NASA astronauts soon will have the opportunity to enjoy chili in space thanks to an Iowa-based company. Soy Creations, a division of Triple "F" Inc. has developed a freeze-dried chili with a meat analogue made from soy protein. The product was approved in December by scientists at Johnson Space Center for addition to the astronaut food list.

Triple "F" Inc. joined the NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center (FTCSC) at Iowa State University last March as a corporate partner and has spent the last year developing soy-based food products suitable for the space program. The company's first product, which is the newly approved freeze-dried chili, meets the requirements for shuttle and space station food. It has a shelf life of one year and is nutritious, palatable and flavorful.

One of NASA FTCSC's highest research priorities is to develop savory meals for the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts experience a fluid shift during space flight that leaves them feeling congested and affects how foods taste. Crew members often use hot sauce and ketchup to liven up the flavor of the foods they eat. They also complain that because many products on the ISS menu are dehydrated, they have no texture when rehydrated.

In response to these needs, Soy Creations set out to create a soy-based food that was spicy, palatable when rehydrated, and did not have the beany aftertaste sometimes associated with soy foods. In sensory evaluation tests at Johnson Space Center, the freeze-dried chili had a high mouth feel (texture) and flavor rating. One sensory panelist remarked the chili does not taste like a meatless product.

Anthony Pometto, ISU professor of food science, is the center's director. "I am very excited the freeze-dried chili has been accepted by NASA. Triple "F" is a leader in improving the flavor of soy-based food products, and their chili hopefully will be the first of many products to be accepted for NASA's food list," Pometto said. The freeze-dried chili is the first product from NASA FTCSC commercial partners to be accepted by NASA.

Triple "F" Inc.'s soy chili and other soy-based products are produced commercially by Spectrum Foods Inc. and marketed under the Premier Harvest brand name. Currently, the Premier Harvest line includes 10 soy items that are available at grocery stores throughout the nation and online at PremierHarvest.com. The products are available locally at Hy-Vee stores.

The NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center is a center within the ISU College of Agriculture. It was established in 1999 to develop foods and food-processing technologies that enhance space missions and advance commercial food products. More information about the Center can be found at www.ag.iastate.edu/centers/ftcsc.

Contacts: 

Anthony Pometto, NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center, (515) 296-5384
Katherine Carlson, NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center, (515) 296-5387
Elaine Wolf, Triple "F" Inc., (515) 254-1257
Susan Thompson, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0705