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'Ratpacks' keeping in step...

2003-03-06 10:19

Johannesburg - An army ratpack (ration pack) is not what it used to be.

One of these days, it might even contain tinned mealie pap.

The traditional dried biscuits and corned meat have been replaced because of the changing profile of the troops in the defence force.

The latest ratpacks are halal and, therefore, suitable for Muslims as they do not contain any pork products.

Dennis Louw, chairperson of the company that produces the packs, said the rations did not include tinned pap at present, but it could be included if the defence force asked for it.

The ratpack pap would have a shelf life of about five years.

Louw was reacting to complaints from soldiers that the ration packs were particularly tasteless, that some of the products in the packs spoiled easily and that the contents did not meet nutritional requirements.

Captain Piet Smith, director of procurement for the defence force, said the South African Bureau of Standards monitored the quality of the rations regularly.

He admitted that South African soldiers in Burundi experienced problems with their rations from time to time because of the radical climatic conditions.

"We are investigating the option of storing the rations in coldrooms to keep the contents fresh for longer.

He said the value of a ratpack was about R35 and it comprised enight for three meals. A United Nations ration pack was worth about R90.

"Every country's defence force decides on the contents of the packs. With unlimited funds, one could adjust the content significantly, but the packs contain everything that is necessary," said Smith.

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