Seeking to address hunger and food insecurity among poor Filipinos, SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta falsely claimed that astronauts in space go on for months without cooking or eating because they consume food that lasts a long time.
During the Commission on Appointments’ deliberation on the nomination of Renato Solidum Jr. as Science and Technology secretary on Dec. 7, Marcoleta asked:
“Ano po ba ‘yung mga kinakain ng mga astronauts sent to the orbit? Kasi po kaya ko tinatanong ‘yon, they are in orbit, they spend days, even months, without cooking their food kasi po hindi naman sila pwedeng magluto doon sa kanilang spaceship. Tama po ba?”
(What do astronauts eat when they are sent to the [Earth’s] orbit? I asked this because when they are in orbit, they spend days, even months, without cooking their food because they can’t cook in their spaceships. Is this correct?)
Source: Commission on Appointments Official Youtube Channel, CA COMMITTEE MEETINGS ON DOE, DOST, DOTR, DFA, CAUCUS & PLENARY SESSION (12/07/22), Dec. 7, 2022, watch from 2:33:08 to 2:33:35
The lawmaker further asked if DOST has invented food like what astronauts have and which, he said, could sustain people, especially the poor, even if they don’t eat for months. Solidum replied that what the country has are ready-to-eat meals with a six-month shelf life for disaster victims.
Marcoleta then said:
“Akin pong itinatanong kasi po ‘yung astronauts, ‘pag kinain niya ‘yon, it will last for several days, if not months.”
(I ask these [questions] because the astronauts, if they eat that [kind of food], it will last for several days, if not months.)
Source: watch from 2:34:14 to 2:34:22
Contrary to Marcoleta’s claim, astronauts in space do cook by warming or reheating pre-packaged food prepared on Earth. They eat three meals a day plus snacks, maintaining a daily intake of 2,500 calories. Of at least four types of food available during space missions, two require heating food packets. Rehydratable food items require the addition of hot or cold water, first introduced in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Apollo Program in the late 1960s. In December 2019, then-International Space Station Commander Luca Parmitano and U.S. astronaut Christina Koch were able to bake a chocolate chip cookie in a prototype oven.
In the same hearing, Marcoleta floated the idea of inventing food pills that can be distributed to the country’s poorest of the poor. He said these would greatly help indigent people who would not have to buy or cook food for two weeks.
Currently, there are no available food pills as meal replacement in the market. Scientists maintain that a food pill diet is not sustainable in the long run, nor is it feasible to pack in a pill all the calories that a person needs daily.
Food pills are a television trope, typically seen in science fiction films.
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Commission on Appointments Official Youtube Channel, CA COMMITTEE MEETINGS ON DOE, DOST, DOTR, DFA, CAUCUS & PLENARY SESSION (12/07/22), Dec. 7, 2022
Royal Museums Greenwich, What do astronauts eat in space?, Accessed Dec. 9, 2022
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Eating in Space, June 27, 2018
America’s Test Kitchen, What Do Astronauts Eat Aboard the International Space Station?, Jan. 10, 2022
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), SP-368 Biomedical Results of Apollo: CHAPTER 1 APOLLO FOOD TECHNOLOGY, Jan. 1, 1975
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Space Food, October 2002
European Space Agency, Luca takes leading role for Europe in space, Sept. 25, 2019
Christina Koch Official Twitter Account, We made space cookies and milk…, Dec. 26, 2019
Nanoracks, Zero G Oven, Accessed Dec. 10, 2022
British Broadcasting Corporation, Meal-in-a-pill : A staple of science fiction, Nov. 18, 2014
Popular Mechanics, Why Don’t We Have Food Replacement Pills?, March 21, 2013
Vice News, It’s 2016, So Where Are All the Meal-Replacement Pills Already?, Oct. 7, 2016
TV Tropes, Food Pills, Accessed Dec. 10, 2022
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)