Earlier this year Carl Schulze blagged / proffed a Canadian 2020-series Individual Meal Pack (IMP 20) when covering an Estonian field exercise, writes Bob Morrison.
As previously discussed (see list below) the Canadian Individual Meal Packet or IMP, known in French as Ration Individuelle de Combat or RIC, is a bagged ration intended to provide the soldier with a minimum of 1,200kcal of balanced nutrition for one of their three daily meals.
Although issued in 2023 to Canadian eFP (enhanced Forward Presence) personnel deployed to the Baltic region in response to past Russian expansionism a little over three years after the packing date of most contents, and therefore technically not in date, this particular IMP 20 bag (Menu # 10 – SMOKED MEAT WITH MUSTARD SAUCE) was still both edible and tasty. Purely by chance, early one morning Carl had walked out of the guest house he was using during the live phase of the multinational exercise in Estonia to discover Canadian armour camped almost on the doorstep and, thinking of our ration pack aficionados, he asked a vehicle crew if they had any spares… et voilà!
Essentially the IMP 20 ration is little different from its 2016 predecessor, with the exception of the light tan coloured outer pack now being foil-backed plastic, rather than foil-backed paper, and resealable courtesy of a zip-lock strip near the top. To open the outer and access the contents merely peel back a horizontal perforated strip above the zip-lock; the empty outer than becomes the leak-proof waste sack for safe disposal at a later time.
The contents of the IMP 20 Menu # 10 which I recently sampled consisted of: 1x 230g Smoked Meat with Mustard Sauce retort pouch generating 300kcal; 1x 116g Date Square retort pouch generating 410kcal; 1x 57g Hamburger Bun generating 200kcal; 1x 50g Peanut Mix pouch generating 270kcal; 1x 52g Mars Bar generating 240kcal; 1x 52g Vanilla Drink Mix pouch generating 220kcal; 1x22g Nescafe Sweet & Creamy (i.e. 3-in-1) instant coffee powder sachet; and 2x 21g Orange Sports Drink powders each generating 80kcal. One does not need a degree in Applied Mathematics to calculate that total calorific value is well over 1200kcal if everything is consumed. Accessories included a zip lock Beverage Bag, a pack of four Tic-Tac mints, a plastic spork wrapped in a brown paper serviette, a compressed napkin, and a book of matches.
The ‘boil-in-the-bag’ smoked beef brisket, supplied in one of the light tan retort pouches introduced in 2018, was very tasty indeed and I really enjoyed it. There was no jam or peanut butter supplied with this Canadian IMP, which I reckon is a first for me, so I used the sliced Burger Bun to dunk up the creamy mustard sauce. The Date Square, even though over four years old since packing according to the code printed on the pouch, was still moist and very tasty; though once again I have to say that I reckon it would taste even better accompanied by warm Devon custard. The Mars Bar, which I stoopidly consumed with coffee before remembering to snap it, was a couple of years beyond the manufacturer’s best before date and discoloured (chocolate bloom) but was still perfectly acceptable; the Canadian DND rations team is on record as saying that although commercial manufacturers only advertise a twelve month shelf life on chocolate products “we conduct a 3 year shelf life test on every food item to ensure you are always eating safe and good tasting food”.
The Beverage Bag included in this ration pack is intended to allow the soldier to reconstitute the sports drink or coffee powder without dirtying their canteen mug. There is a line printed on the outside to allow 250ml of water to be measured and a zip-lock fastener allows the reconstituted powdered drink to be shaken for proper mixing. There was also a Vanilla Drink Mix pouch, with zip-lock fastener, included this pack and the user is advised to add cold water to the line marked on the outside of the pouch then seal and shake. I added water and shook it, opened and stirred it, resealed it and shook it again, let it stand for a little while, then opened and stirred again before decanting into a glass to photograph it, but there was still powder in the bottom of the pouch and lumps floating on the surface of this ‘milk shake’. Now I quite enjoy vanilla ice cream and I even enjoy vanilla stout, but I’m afraid I tipped this sludge down the sink after photographing and taking just one sip.
Finally, I really need to expand a little (pun not intended) on the ‘Compressed Napkin’ found in this ration pack. I have come across these before, first on a trade stand at an expo and then in a fancy Indian restaurant, but they still tickle me. In case you have not seen these, they start life as a little cylindrical object rather like a couple of stacked extra-strong mints but when just a few drops of water are added the ‘tablet’ grows into a small column and can then be teased out into a quite sizeable moist cloth napkin. They never fail to astonish me.
[images © Bob Morrison]