Posted 13 January 2004 - 09:24 AM
All of the things you mentioned can come into play in choosing a commercial product. First, we usually add commercial products when we have a need. We look at the menu list and see where we might be lacking in things like variety and possibly nutrition. Currently, we normally add additional commercial products when one of the products we are currently using is discontinued by the manufacturer and we have to find a substitute. We have to consider the nutritional profile of the product, the preservation method/shelf life, the way it is packaged (will the packaging meet spacecraft materials standards?) and the availability. Since we have to do engineering drawings for all our food items, it is costly to add an item to the permanent menu. Therefore, we don't want to add some "fad" food item to the permanent menu and have it be discontinued right away by the manufacturer. We want to try and insure long term availability of the items we use.