MRE time and temperature indicator.
Since about 2000, cases of MREs have had small stickers on them that are intended to indicate if they have been exposed to high heat and thus might have gone bad.
It starts off as a small (about 1 inch square) orange sticker with a black circle and orange square inside. If they have been exposed to heat, and have likely gone bad, the center turns black.
Even when some components of the MRE have gone bad, other items are still edible. The main component (beef stew might be bulging and obviously bad) but the crackers, M&Ms, beverage powder, oatmeal bar... are usually good to go.
Approximate Preservation Times by Preservation Method
Here are some of the most common methods of food preservation and the average amount of time that the preserved food should last. The chart will also list a Check Frequency representing how often a check for spoilage must be made once the preservation time is exceeded.
Refrigerated Foods: This storage method involves holding the food in an environment of 40F/5C down to 33F/1C. The typical lifespan of refrigerated foods before a check for spoilage are:
Beef: 7 days before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 day.
Lamb: 6 days before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 day.
Pork/Produce: 5 days before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 day.
Poultry/Fish: 2 days before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 day.
Frozen Foods: This storage method involves holding foods at temperatures of 32F/0C for longer term storage. The typical lifespan of frozen foods is:
Beef/Vegetables: 12 months before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 month.
Fish/Lamb: 10 months before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 month.
Pork: 8 months before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 month.
Poultry: 15 months before spoilage begins. Check Frequency: 1 month.
Freeze Dried/Processed Food: This commercial storage method involves both dehydrating and then freeze-drying food. It is most commonly used for making camping/backpacking foods (such as the Mountain House brand). This food is the civilian equivalent of an MRE. The lifespan of this food is 5 years with a Check Frequency of 1 year.
Commercial Canned Foods: This represents commercially canned foods such as Campbell's soups or Dinty Moore beef stew. This food counts as an MRE for consumption because it too is "fortified" with added vitamins and minerals. The average lifespan of the typical canned good is 24 months with a Check Frequency of 6 Months after the listed expiration date. Dented cans add one to the Check for spoilage roll.
Enhanced Commercially Canned Foods: This represents commercially canned, specially prepared, "survival rations" like the products CMMG prepares (I highly recommend their Tactical Bacon if you can afford it). This food is the equivalent of an MRE but cost 10X as much. The shelf life of this food is 10 years and the Check Frequency is 1 year.
Smoked Meats: This is one of the most common primitive methods of food preservation. Smoked meats have a life expectancy of 1 month before spoilage begins. The Check Frequency is 1 week for smoked meats.
Sun Dried/Dehydrated Foods: This method of preservation involves "sun drying" or dry heat preservation (placing food in a hot and dry environment such as a car's cabin on an open grate/screen). It can be used for a variety of foods. The lifespan of Dried foods is 1 month and the Check Frequency is 1 month.
Dry Cured (salted) Foods: This is another method of preservation using spices and salts to infuse the food and then "cure" it over a low heat (you can use an oven to do this). This is how beef jerky is made. The lifespan of Cured meat is:
Beef/Fish/Lamb/Pork: 24 months before spoilage occurs. Check Frequency is 1 month.
Poultry: 12 months before spoilage occurs. Check Frequency is 1 month.
Wet-Packed/Cured (salted) Foods: This form of salt curing involves a chemical cocktail using salt and other preservatives to "cure" meats BUT allow them to remain "soft" when cooked. The finished product is often canned (like European Canned Hams) or sealed in barrels of brine water. This preservation method was commonly used for bulk rations until WW2. The average lifespan before spoilage of wet-packed, cured meats is 5 years. The Check Frequency is 1 year.
Canning/Pressure Canning of Foods: This method of preservation involves bringing the food in question to a boil under pressure to create a "seal" on the glass container it is in. If the food IS ACIDIC, you can create the seal using only the pressure from the boil. For other foods, you must boil the jars in a "pressure cooker," which increases the pressure inside the jar to create a more powerful seal. The lifespan of "Canned" food is 12 months with a Check Frequency of 1 month.
Confit Preservation: This method of preservation is used with "greasy" meats such as Duck, frog legs, or other "oily" foods. It involves "slow cooking" the meat in Lard/Fat for a period of time until the Fat mixes with the oils in the meat and "renders" to a creamy texture. This boils off the water and O2, preserving the meat under a layer of fat. It is then often sealed in an air-tight container and can last a fairly long time. As a bonus, the meat is very tasty cold (unlike most of its contemporary preservation methods). The shelf life of Confit is 3 months with a Check Frequency of 1 month.
Checking For Spoilage:
When a Spoilage Check is called for (by the Check Frequency of the Storage Method), you must roll 1d20. The following modifiers apply to this Spoilage Check:
+1 for each previous Spoilage Check made (or Check Frequency period exceeded).
+1 for every 10F/5.5C of temperature OVER 70F/20C or fraction thereof.
+2 for damaged food packaging (rusted cans)
+1 for dented cans which are still sealed
-1 for every 10F/5.5C of temperature BELOW 40F/5C
Any roll of 20 or more indicates spoilage has occurred. You must then check the Food Spoilage Table in the next posting to see HOW the food is contaminated.
Last edited by swaghauler; 02-24-2017 at 08:05 PM.
Food Contamination Table:
Below is a table you can use to determine HOW a food source may be contaminated.
Food Contamination Tables:
25+........... Radiological AND Chemical Contamination (roll on BOTH tables)
23 to 24..... Radiological Contamination
21 to 22..... Chemical Contamination
18 to 20..... Viral Contamination
15 to 17..... Parasitic Contamination
10 to 14..... Bacterial Contamination
05 to 09..... Mold/Surface Spoilage (10% to 60% of food)
01 to 04..... Rancid Food (see below)
Modifiers to the Contamination Tables:
+1 20km from a crater
+2 10km from a crater
+5 5km from a crater
+10 1km from a crater
+1 for freshwater fish (versus saltwater fish which are MORE resistant to bacteria and parasites)
Radiological Contamination: Add the modifiers above to the roll.
20+........... Heavy Contamination of 1D10 X 10 Rads.
15 to 19..... Moderate Contamination of 1D20 Rads.
09 to 14..... Light Contamination of 1D10 Rads.
01 to 08..... Trace Contamination of 1D6 Rads.
Anyone exposed to Radiological contamination can "bind" RAD ingested food and reduce exposure by 1D6 Rads by taking a dose of Potassium Iodine.
Chemical Contamination: add the modifiers above to the roll.
21+.......... Contamination resembling Blood Agent (1-3) or Blister Agent (4-6).
16 to 20.... Very Dangerous Chemicals/Heavy Metals (see below).
11 to 15.... Dangerous Chemicals/Heavy Metals (see below).
06 to 10.... Fairly Dangerous Chemicals (see below).
01 to 05.... Toxic Chemicals (see below).
There are a number of treatments to bind or treat chemical poisoning, from Atropine to Lithium Dioxide injections (for certain heavy metal poisonings). Finding an appropriate treatment requires an average of Chemistry and Medical skills.
Viral Contamination: Nothing is added to this roll.
18 to 20.... Hepatitis-C
13 to 17.... Hepatitis-A
07 to 12.... Norovirus (minor flu-like virus)
01 to 06.... Rotavirus (minor flu-like virus)
Parasitic Infestation: Nothing is added to this roll
20............ Tapeworm (see below)
15 to 19.... Amoebic Dysentery
10 to 14.... Cryptosporidium (as a minor illness)
01 to 09.... Giardia (as a minor illness)
20............. Botulism Toxin or Campylobacter (in seafood), (see below)
15 to 19..... Typhoid Fever
10 to 14..... Cholera
01 to 09..... Minor Food Poisoning (Listeria, Salmonella, etc...) (see below).
Explanation of Table Results:
Heavy Radiological Contamination: In addition to inducing Radiation sickness based on the character's current exposure level, the ingestion of this much radiation will force the character to roll against his STR, CON, and AGL as though he had hit an aging point during character creation. Rolling his characteristic score or less on 1D10 will result in the loss of a characteristic point.
Very Dangerous Chemical Contamination: This contamination will resemble a Flu with severe disorientation (Serious fatigue for 1D6 days) and a Chance of Fatality of 5 (see Diseases in Twilight2000). In addition, the character will have to make rolls against his CON, STR, AGL, and INT Characteristics due to the poisoning. the player must roll above his current stat on 1D10, or lose one point just like the aging roll in character generation does. If he is treated by someone (or a team) with BOTH Medical AND Chemistry skills and they succeed at a DIFFICULT roll of the combined skills, he may add 1 to the 1D10 roll.
Dangerous Chemical Contamination: This is the same as Very Dangerous contamination above EXCEPT that there is NO roll against INT because there is no "cognitive/neurological damage" from the exposure.
Fairly Dangerous Chemical Contamination This poisoning has a 1 Chance of Fatality (see Diseases in Twilight2000), and results in a Light level of Fatigue (1d6 days) if treated successfully (an Average chance using Chem & Medical). Unsuccessful treatment results in a Moderate Level of Fatigue (1D6 days) and a roll against STR, CON, and AGL or lose a point of characteristic.
Toxic Chemical Poisoning: This poisoning has a 1 Chance of Fatality (see diseases in Twilight2000) IF treatment fails (treatment is the same as Fairly Dangerous Chemical Poisoning). There is a Light level of Fatigue (1D6 days) if successful, and a Moderate Level of Fatigue (1D6 days) if unsuccessful. There is NO characteristic loss for this poisoning.
Parasitic Infestations: All of these can be destroyed by cooking the food (be careful of those post-apocalyptic salads boys and girls), but only the Tapeworm poses a true LONG-TERM threat. 1D6 months after infection, a Tapeworm will inflict a CONSTANT Light level of Fatigue. Additionally, the player will have to consume 2X the normal amount of rations or gain fatigue. Finally, the character must roll against STR, CON, and AGL every YEAR until the tapeworm is surgically removed or they die.
Botulism Toxin/Campylobacter: These food poisonings are very dangerous and the 5 Fatality Rating in the Twilight2000 Disease rules refers to these toxins. They both can cause long-term neurological issues so a Characteristic Loss roll like those for Chemical Poisoning above is mandated ON A FAILED TREATMENT ROLL. Successful treatment results in NO characteristic losses.
Minor Food Poisoning: The more common types of Food Poisoning have only a 1 Chance of Fatality (instead of Twilight2000's 5) and will result in no complications for the sufferer.
Mold Contamination: This contamination can be easily removed and from 10% to 60% of the food will be lost. There is a small chance of a more serious event, though. On a natural roll of 20 (on 1D20), There is Staph present in the contaminated food. The character will contract an infection from consuming UNCOOKED food (Vegans beware) based on their current condition: Healthy= 2 in 20, Lightly Wounded=4 in 20, Moderately Wounded= 6 in 20, Seriously Wounded= 8 in 20, Critically Wounded= 10 in 20, Deadly Wounded= 12 in 20. This is just the same as the infections described in the rules.
Rancid Food: Rancid food is the cousin to "Skunk Water" (see the Water Purification thread). The food is not contaminated but has begun to spoil. The characters CAN eat the food IF they can get past the horrible taste. The Character must roll under their CON or vomit up the "unpalatable food." If the roll fails by more than 5, the character becomes sick for 1d3 days (as a minor illness).
I hope this adds some depth to your gaming experience. As always, use what you want and ignore the rest.
Last edited by swaghauler; 02-24-2017 at 10:16 PM.
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