If you’re into storing food, then chances are fairly decent that you’re aware of who WISE Food Company is. They make emergency food that comes in buckets already sealed for long-term storage. You can buy buckets that claim to feed a set number of people for a specific time period, such as two people for 30 days.
WISE, however, had been beset by problems for several years. If you’re still purchasing WISE Food, you may want to keep reading.
Poor Storage Practices
A 2015 report done by third-party Fres-co Systems USA found that WISE Food had far too much oxygen in it than is considered safe for long-term storage. Emergency food comes with oxygen absorbers to keep the food safe to eat for decades; WISE Food’s levels of oxygen, however, were far above the levels they should be.
Low oxygen levels with little or no variation from pouch to pouch are key indicators of both good process control and packaging integrity (other key indicators include: moisture, heat, and light). Oxygen degrades shelf life in foods by oxidizing fats and oils. This oxidation causes rancidity and unpalatable off-flavors. The presence of oxygen also depletes food of valuable vitamins A, C, D and E.
“Prolonged exposure to oxygen will cause most foods to become rancid within six months to two years, depending on ambient levels,” said Drew Huebsch, R&D manager for Mountain House. “For truly long term storage of food – measured in decades – our research indicates that oxygen levels should be below 3 percent. United States Military specifications go even further, requiring oxygen levels to be below 2 percent.”
The report results were released by Mountain House, admittedly a WISE Food competitor; the results, however, speak for themselves.
The study also tested for variation of oxygen levels from pouch to pouch, a measure of reliability and process control. Mountain House again came out on top with a standard deviation of 0.3. The closest competitor, Backpacker’s Pantry, had a standard deviation of 2.4, or more than 8.1 times that of Mountain House. At the bottom of the list was Wise Company’s survival food at 8.4, representing a variability of 28.2 times greater than Mountain House. [emphasis added]
That wouldn’t be the end of issues for WISE.
Misleading Advertising Practices
In 2017, a class-action lawsuit was filed alleging that WISE was engaging in “unlawful, unfair, and deceptive advertising and business practices.” In 2018, WISE agreed to settle, although they claim no wrongdoing. The settlement amount was released last week.
The lawsuit claimed the following:
Wise Company fails to disclose that if the consumer in fact eats the number of prescribed servings each day necessary to make the food kits last for the advertised period of time, the consumer will effectively starve or suffer adverse health effects given that the food kits provide drastically fewer calories and nutrients than are needed to adequately sustain adults for the advertised periods of time. [Editor’s Note: Some kits have as little as 453 calories per day.]
Wise Company’s long-term and emergency food kits provide less than half the daily calories necessary for an average adult to survive.
Consequently, a person who credits Wise Company’s representations and attempts to survive on one of its “Long-Term Food Kits” for the specified period of time faces serious physical and mental health risks, including dehydration, hypothermia, hypotension, impaired renal and liver function, depression, and impaired cognition.
WISE claimed in their response to the lawsuit that “Plaintiffs have not actually consumed any of the products they purchased and, therefore, have suffered no injury in fact whatsoever” so no harm, no foul. In other words, well, since you haven’t ACTUALLY had to rely on our food, you should be fine.
In addition, WISE said, “Wise should not have made assumptions about how many calories people in any given family should consume. Where we can be helpful is in providing you with the nutritional information and then leaving it up to each consumer to determine how many calories he or she will need in a survival situation.”
Should you be buying Wise Food? As always, it’s your choice. If that was what you were relying on to survive in a grid-down situation, however, you might want to rethink how long your stores will last.