Kosovo's Task Force Medical works to establish food sanitation system
May 28, 2014
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (May 28, 2014) -- It's not every day that Soldiers get to help lay a foundation for a long lasting system in a region.
That's exactly what members of Multinational Battle Group-East's Task Force Medical did when they invited Kosovo's food inspectors to their food handlers class on Camp Bondsteel, May 19.
Capt. Nathan Carlton, MNBG-E's Force Health Protection team officer, said that the idea to invite the inspectors came while planning for training for a separate unit.
"One of our preventive medicine requirements is to make sure everyone on Camp Bondsteel is trained in food safety," he said. "We planned to train the Soldiers working the [aviation] Waffle House, so we invited some Kosovo food and safety inspectors along so they could see what we do, and what our standards are."
Carlton, assigned to Fort Hood's 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, added that currently there is no standard safety course for food handlers in Kosovo, and the force health protection team is working with the inspectors to help develop their own food safety program.
"There are a lot illnesses that can be transferred through food if proper sanitary conditions aren't followed. It's important to help Kosovo provide the best public safety for their food industry," Carlton continued.
One of the inspectors who went through the class was Ibrahim Tershnjaku, Kosovo's chief food sanitation inspector. Tershnjaku leads the sanitary inspectorate team for all Kosovo's restaurants and hotels, and was very impressed with this visit.
"I think we exchanged some very good information with our colleagues here on food safety," he said. "Today's training was essential in learning how to work with food and food handlers. We're going to work on a project where, in the future everyone working in food will have to have a certification."
Also on hand for the training was Lt. Col. Martin LaGodna, command veterinarian for U.S. Army Europe's command Surgeon section. LaGodna's role is to provide oversight and service support in USAREUR's area of operation. He feels this is an important project, both for inter-agency and multinational interaction.
"For Kosovo, we want to help them develop their public health infrastructure. Secondly we want to help safeguard the food that [Kosovo Force] receives, and we saw this as an opportunity to work with the public health agency to accomplish both things," LaGodna said.
Tershnjaku agreed the class is beneficial for both the inspectors and for Kosovo.
"All the certifications and training will help us and I think the citizens of Kosovo will get something out of this as far as moving food safety forward. We are thankful for the American expertise in helping us build a standard," he said.
Although food safety isn't new to the Kosovo Forces, LaGodna feels what this rotation is doing can help shape future food service operations.
"Ever since KFOR first came here, we've always had food safety and defense programs and as time goes on and Kosovo develops, we look to get food from [Kosovo]. Preceding rotations have worked with food safety, but this one has turned it up a notch. I'm very interested and very proud of the work they are doing right now," LaGodna said.
Carlton was just pleased with knowing the impact his work can make.
'It's a great feeling to know the things we are doing on this rotation will have a lasting effect in Kosovo," he said. "We're helping develop new health protection infrastructure and it makes us feel like we're doing good for somebody."