By Capt. Joetta Khan, Registered Dietitian, Food Service Officer, Tripler Army Medical CenterJuly 11, 2013
Defense Logistics Agency on Oahu, Hawaii has organized a Joint Services Food Service Management Board. Every quarter members from the various food service branches of the Joint Military (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines) Services on Oahu, Hawaii assemble to review food purchases, vendors and collaborate on best practices with an emphasis on shifting food service to meet the Department of Defense Menu Nutrition Standards. This quarter's meeting included food service members from; U.S. Navy, Pearl Harbor, U.S. Air Force, Hickam, U.S. Army, Tripler Army Medical Center, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and included a tour of Meadow Gold, the current dairy prime vendor.
Meadow Gold, a dairy company on Oahu since 1897, currently provides all of the dairy products for the land military services. The plant currently processes milk that arrives from California, producing over 6,000 gallons per hour shipping out between 35,000 and 40,000 products daily. Members of the board were provided the opportunity to walk through the plant which contains the only plastic gallon jug maker on island, milk and juice processing vats, yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream vat processing areas, a lab, warehouse, cold storage and receiving areas. The tour hosted by Meadow Gold, allowed members of the various food service groups to observe, evaluate and ask questions about the processing of the dairy products. Items that topped the list for the food service leaders included; quality control, shelf life, food security, emergency preparedness and processing of the dairy products. Meadow Gold has an extensive food safety record, meeting or exceeding the current industry standards on safety.
Meadow Gold was able to demonstrate the extensive quality control and food safety testing that is accomplished in their facility prior to the packaging of any products. Currently, they conduct over six tests on the dairy products prior to processing it. Meadow Gold also maintains "retain samples" of all products to retest four days past the expiration date to ensure the product as maintained quality. In many cases when a problem product is identified, Meadow Gold can trace that product from receiving thru the plant to distribution and locate any issues in the system that may have led to a decrease in quality.
Food safety and security is maintained through an extensive security system. From the time the milk arrives at the facility until it is delivered to the military services, it is secured. Meadow Gold described in detail their current security procedures which includes; video surveillance, badge access as well as additional monitoring.
This quarter's meeting wrapped up with a focus on healthy eating options provide by a Registered Dietitian which included; a healthy chip alternative, discussion on whole grain pasta and gluten free and low-fat baked goods that are scheduled to be added to the purchasing list for the facilities. This group effectively bridges the gap between the various service branches and provides an opportunity for the vendors to demonstrate their ability to meet the current and growing needs of the DOD system as it strives to incorporate high nutritional and product standards.