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Japanese Space Food Certification

Space Medicine

Making Japanese space food safer and more reliable

To be certified as Japanese space foods, products should satisfy the certification standard.

Foods to be used on the ISS should meet the requirements (e.g. long preservation, resistance to flight and microgravity stresses, etc.) stipulated in the "ISS Food Plan," standard document for space food supply to the ISS.

Moreover, since products are produced in Japan, they should meet the food safety standards in Japan. The Japanese space food certification standard has been set up based on this condition.

A hydrated pouch of Rice Ball With Salmon floats
in front of a window in the Cupola ©JAXA/NASA

Outline of the Japanese space food certification standard

  • Manufacturing equipment should be located in Japan.
  • Manufacturing equipment should be managed in the procedures described in the HACCP*1or equivalent methods.
  • Inspections of hygiene (e.g. bacteria inspections).
  • Inspections of nutritiveness (analysis of nutritive ingredients).
  • Quality inspections (water activity, viscosity, depressurization/pressurization test and freezing/heat proof test).
  • Preservativeness test (real-time or accelerated test for 18 months).
  • Sensory tests (evaluation of color, smell, flavor, texture and appearance).
  • Other inspections and tests (off-gas test, on-site inspection, preparation conformity test, maintenance of five years of production, and other specific tests necessary for each product).

*1 Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point.

Certification Process

Every applicant should first conduct preliminary inspections and tests of a proposed product (or proposed products). Applicant should send application documents for certification to the secretariat for Japanese space foods at JAXA, including a document presenting all the results of the preliminary inspections and tests. Proposed products will be examined and satisfactory products will be certified as Japanese space foods. JAXA will issue certificates for such products in favor of the applicants.

Below is an outline of the certification process, from application to issuance of certificate.

Outline of Certification Process

  1. Applicants should read the Japanese space food certification standard publicized on the appropriate page of JAXA’s website.
  2. Applicants for Japanese space food certification should first contact for consultation the secretariat for Japanese space foods. At the consultation, the secretariat will inform them of the “criteria for applicability”, “flow of procedures until certification” and “information to be provided in the application documents”. Applicants may be requested to present product sample(s) at the consultation. Without preliminary consultation, application documents might be rejected.
  3. Applicants and manufacturers of proposed product(s) can check the compatibility of their product(s) with the warmer and the hot water pouring pot (both of which will be lent to applicants) at their own facility.
  4. Applicants should prepare and submit to the secretariat their primary examination documents (application form and documents concerning methods and conditions of preservativeness test).
  5. Applicants who have passed the primary examination and/or the manufacturer of the product(s) should conduct the specified inspections/tests and prepare/submit to the secretariat their secondary examination documents.
  6. JAXA can conduct on-site inspections when necessary in the course of the document examination, sample check and secondary examination.
  7. A Japanese space food certificate will be issued to each of the applicants whose products have been accepted as Japanese space foods in accordance with the Japanese space food certification standard.

Japanese Space Food Certification

Every applicant should first conduct the required inspections and tests of a proposed product (or proposed products). Applicant should send application documents for certification to the secretariat for Japanese space foods at the JAXA, including all the results of the inspections and tests.

Processes of Procurement and Transportation

The Japanese space food procurement and transportation standard stipulates the requirements and processes about JAXA’s procurement of space foods from certified manufacturers for delivery to long-stay ISS crew.

Utilization of JAXA-designated Packages (pouches with or without spout)

Certified manufacturers who use JAXA-specified packages for their Japanese space food(s) in the manufacturing process should inform the secretariat for Japanese space foods of the required types of package and the numbers of packages. Two types of packages are prepared: retort pouch and pouch for hydration cooking. The retort pouch is subdivided into two types: flat bag (R5) and stand-alone pouch (R6). The pouch for hydration cooking is subdivided into two types: pouch with spout (W2) and pouch without spout (W1). Pouches for hydration cooking must be packed into an external package (S1/S2).

Packages to enclose foods
“Certified Food” logo(left)and ”Flight-like Food” logo(light)

Manufacturers who have acquired a certification for their product are entitled to use the "Japanese space foods" logos on their web pages, descriptive documents for company presentation and packages of their certified product(s). Two logos have been designed: "certified food" logo and "flight-like food" logo.

Loading Process

Japanese space foods to be loaded will be selected based on the result of food tasting sessions for assigned astronauts to the ISS long-stay missions. Selected foods will be loaded on spacecraft* for transporting cargoes to the ISS at timings of these astronauts’ long-stay missions.

Below is an outline of the process until selection of Japanese space foods to be loaded and transported on spacecraft.

* Japanese H-II transfer vehicle (HTV) “KOUNOTORI”, U.S. commercial cargo transport spacecraft, etc

Loading Process

  • JAXA maintains the list of certified Japanese space foods up to date.
  • JAXA holds food tasting sessions for astronauts assigned to ISS long-stay mission by the ISS Program. These astronauts select satisfactory Japanese space foods for transportation to the ISS and JAXA places orders with the appropriate manufacturers (certified food manufacturers) for such products.
  • Such manufacturers start producing the selected Japanese space foods and deliver them to JAXA.
  • JAXA conducts acceptance inspections of delivered Japanese space foods and transfers them to the launch organization.
  • The transferred Japanese space foods are loaded into the spacecraft and transported to the ISS.

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