Food inspector watches what you eat for health and safety
June 27, 2013
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The last line of defense in the quality and safety of the food that military servicemembers, veterans, and family members purchase for consumption at the installation's commissary lies in the hands of one Soldier, Sgt. Christine Agyemann-Ott.
Agyemann-Ott, 30, is a five-year veteran of the U.S. Army and says that she "believes that food and food assets are one of the most integral parts of troop welfare and morale. To be able to do my part to ensure that my battle buddies are safe and protected through their food chain is an incredible honor and privilege."
As a military food inspection specialist here at Picatinny Arsenal, she is tasked as the Installation Food Vulnerability Program Manager.
"I ensure the health and welfare of the fighting force, as well as DoD personnel and family members is protected through the food chain against intentional and accidental
sources of contamination," said Agyemann-Ott. "I also protect the financial interest of the government by holding prime vendors accountable for contractual requirements in the food supply chain through audits and inspections."
Agyemann-Ott completed an eight-week basic food inspection course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas after successful completion of Army Basic Combat Training. She is also an Operational Rations subject matter expert for training, Food Defense Program Managing, Prime Vendor Auditing, and Serve Safe.
Living to the standards of the U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Ocer's Creed and paraphrasing it in the signature block of her work email, Agyemann-Ott states, "No one is more professional than I. I am a Non- Commissioned Ocer, a leader of Soldiers. Competence is my watch-word!"
Agyemann-Ott wears many hats as she reports to the Public Health Command District, Fort Belvoir, Va., and provides support for the Defense Commissary Agency (DECA), the Picatinny Arsenal Garrison, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) as well as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES).
"A food inspector's day typically starts with a receipt inspection of food suppliers that are delivering to the installation. A cursory check is performed on all food vendors delivering to the Arsenal to ensure the wholesomeness of the supply, accuracy of order and that the items being delivered has not been tampered with or adulterated in any way," Agyemann-Ott said.
As the day progresses, military food inspectors respond to recall alerts, customer complaints, requests for shelf life extension and more.
TRANING BECOMES REALITY
Agyemann-Ott's workday normally runs from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. but she is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"I sit in and provide SME input to the Garrison Commander during installation Anti-Terrorism Working group meetings," Agyemann-Ott said.
When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey last October, Picatinny Arsenal was caught mid-storm and one of the main focal points of the catastrophe was food. Agyemann-Ott's guidance during those meetings would be put to test on the heels of the storm.
With power outages and the installation being closed for several days after the disaster, food storage became an issue. Add to that the gas shortages that were experienced throughout the state and not only could those who had access to the base not get there, but the electrical generators tasked with keeping the refrigerators running were also at risk of failure.
Agyemann-Ott prepared a countdown check list for food activities on the installation to coincide with the checklist that the Department of Emergency Management which provided fail safes for the installation's activities on ways to minimize the fi'scal loss from food spoilage in the event of prolonged power outage.