Many well-meaning people are wasting their time sending inappropriate foods to U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, a Utah State University food scientist says.

Temperatures in storage and transportation may reach 150 F. Although they will not spoil, even canned fruits will lose quality quickly at such temperatures, according to Dr. Georgia Lauritzen, Extension nutrition specialist in the USU College of Family Life.Most candies will melt and most cookies and cakes will crumble in transit.

Dried fruit or nuts survive well under these conditions, Lauritzen says.

However, because of the possibility of worm infestation, it is best to send commercially packaged dried fruit. Likewise, nuts are fine so long as they are vacuum packed with antioxidants (as most commercially packed nuts are).

The Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia has set up a service for those who would like to send food or other items to unspecified military persons in Saudi Arabia.

Call (215) 737-7488 to ask specific questions about the appropriateness of food or other gifts for the military.