(KXNET) — Thousands of men and women in the armed forces are in active combat each year.

In Friday’s Eye on Ag & Energy Segment: how the USDA plays a role in determining what they eat.

“Meal, Ready-to-Eat” Meals have been used since the 1970s in the U.S. space program and military.

The MRE package is a pouch that contains normal food that is ready to heat and consume, such as chili or beef stew.

Each year, the USDA tests the foods for important vitamins, proteins, and fat content.

The agency wants to make sure that our service men and women are healthy and the food is safe to eat, whether you are in the middle of the desert, parachuting from an airplane, or on a ship in the ocean.

“Part of our work is to help assure that the components that go into those MREs meet all of the military’s requirements. We’re looking for the overall appearance of the product, that’s flavor, odor, color, mouth-feel, texture, visual appearance, consistency,” said USDA AMS, Richard Boyd.

There are currently 24 menus for the Meal, Ready-to-Eat program, made from American-grown vegetables, fruits, and meat.