Food inspectors savor job of keeping post safe
July 15, 2010
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Every morning, before the commissary opens, Fort Belvoir's Veterinary Food Inspectors are hard at work ensuring that all food for sale is fresh and up to USDA standards.
Sgts. Ismael Esquivel and Chris Dilworth are two of Belvoir's inspectors and they explained some of their daily tasks.
"We have two shifts every morning," Esquivel said. "The first is at the commissary and begins at 5 a.m. For this shift, we check temperatures and freshness dates for meats, eggs, produce and just about any other foods.
"The second shift begins at 8:45 a.m. and occurs at all of Belvoir's dining facilities, where we make sure the food to be served that day is up to USDA standards," Esquivel said.
"Our main task is to ensure Soldiers and their families aren't getting sick from food consumption," Dilworth said. "Terrorists today are also willing to try anything to disrupt our way of life, and the possibility of tampering or poisoning our food is something we have to look out for."
According to Esquivel, the rest of the day is spent conducting research and making sure employees are properly washing their hands, wearing hair nets and taking the necessary cleanliness precautions.
"We also walk the store every morning prior to opening, to make sure it is clean and presentable and fit for customers," Esquivel said.
Both men became food inspectors for the opportunities the position provides.
"With this job, you can be stationed anywhere and we have a lot of possibilities when I get out of the Army," Esquivel said.
Dilworth noted the civilian career opportunities the job provides, as well.
"We have the opportunity to go to work for the USDA, when I am done with the Army," Dilworth said. "On top of that, we get to travel, work at different installations and work with the Marines and Navy, because they don't have a position like this."
Before coming to Belvoir, Dilworth, approaching his fourth year as an inspector, was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., a base he never knew existed before his assignment there.
Esquivel, a six-year inspector, previously did a tour in Germany and one tour in Iraq. While in Iraq, Esquivel dealt with some interesting food cases.
"While I was in Iraq, we were inspecting some cans and found a rat inside of a sealed green bean can," he said. "We were trying to figure out how it got there and everything. Needless to say, we had a recall of the product after that incident."
Proof the food inspectors are needed.