How many US Soldiers have Died From Bad MREs?

I wonder what the death rate is from food poisoning might be. To me, MREs must have some (small ) rate of defective sealing…leading to botulism (or something similar). Is there any number for the fatalities caused by contaminated MREs?

You need to show some kind of evidence that this is possibly true, rather than just your suspicion. Otherwise, we’re off to IMHO.

Zero as far as I know. I have come across a couple in 25 years that had been sealed defectively. It is nauseatingly obvious that there is a problem. I could not see anyone mistakenly eating one.

A defective seal might give you some sort of food poisoning or another, but it wouldn’t be botulism. That would come from a good seal but poor pasteurization.

Now that I think of it, the ones I’ve seen (I can remember two in 25 years) were still sealed but blew up like balloons because of the horror that was going on inside. No one bothered to take a culture.

Same, although with IMPs.

Come to think of it, there’s another way you could get food poisoning from MREs. While they can be eaten cold straight out of the can, or individually heated with the little chemical pack that comes with them, some units will open them up, combine them for the whole unit, and do something resembling actual kitchen cooking with them. While this generally results in a better product, it also opens up the possibility that the person doing the cooking didn’t wash his hands, with all that implies.

Aug. 2005, National Training Center. I had the unfortunate experience to take a bite of some New England clam chowder gone bad, really bad.

I will eat almost ANYTHING, but ever since that unfortunate meal, I second guess all clam chowder.

According to my father, some of the G.I.s during WWII got so sick of the damn things that they refused to eat them. So I guess it’s possible that there were some deaths from starvation due to K-rations.

Just for a bit of historical context:

Canned food (as we know it today) was a newly invented technology in the late 1800’s, about the time of the Spanish American War. Food processing and other industrial processes and products didn’t focus much on consumer (or employee) safety in those days. (See: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.)

LOTS of people died from canned food in those days – even when it wasn’t packed in formaldehyde, which it often was.

This was the original form of “MRE” that American soldiers were issued during the Spanish American War. They called it “embalmed beef”. It was said that more soldiers died from eating canned rations than died from Spanish bullets.

(I learned about this in an American History class I once took, for what that’s worth.)

Okay, here’s some info I just looked up: United States Army beef scandal (Wiki article on embalmed beef.)

Embalmed beef sounds really tasty.

This is unlikely to be a problem - contamination introduced into food by poor hygiene immediately before serving - although undesirable - isn’t likely to make someone sick.
Bacterial contamination in food requires time to multiply into a dose significant enough to cause food poisoning.

Clam chowder MRE? What the hell were you thinking?

Agreed. There are some things that in MRE form you just don’t eat.

Meals Ready to Eat. Three lies on one label.

So at this point the answer to the OP’s question is: zero. Not even any anecdotal deaths. Not even an instance of “I heard of a soldier who tried to eat some MRE clam chowder and it was so disgusting (by definition) that he stood up in horror and was shot by an Afghani sniper. No, really!”
About par for the OP, actually. :stuck_out_tongue:

It happens in restaurants fairly often, and I would expect the chow hall environment to be similar to a restaurant.

When it happens in restaurants, it’s because the food is contaminated, then stored improperly (the food becoming unsafe during the latter).

Yes, I guess it could happen in any kind of food service scenario - perhaps more so on the battlefield, where refrigeration may not be available, or where there may be unscheduled interruptions between preparation and consumption.

I got to eat both of Meal, Combat, Individual (MCI) and MRE’s. I’ll take the MRE’s any day.

My kids loved to eat MRE’s. They’d sell them at the Commissary for a buck or two when they were within a couple of months of their expiration date. Every once in a while I’d buy a few and the kids thought it was a big adventure to eat them.

There was talk about leaving c-rats in the can for the Viet Cong to find… deadlier than a land mine. Except for the Ham and Lima Beans, that was probably a joke. Though there was a guy in my squad who could make those taste good. He’d never reveal his secret, but I know celery salt and worcestershire sauce were involved.