Veterinary food inspectors look at food shipments destined for consumption by military service members and their families on a regular basis, but sometimes the food inspected has special significance for Soldiers. Such was the case when U.S. Army Public Health Command Staff Sgt. Kimberly Kornacki, deployed with Task Force Medical Falcon, inspected a food shipment containing unidentified brown pellets.
Kornacki, the force health protection team non-commissioned officer-in-charge at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, rejected the shipment, which was to be used to prepare the Soldiers' Thanksgiving dinner.
"I knew there was a problem as soon as I checked the truck with the food shipment and found brown cylindrical pellets on the floor of the vehicle and on top of the food," explained Kornacki. "Checking for contamination is an important part of the inspection process, and what I saw raised a red flag."
Food safety regulations used by the Department of Defense instruct inspectors to check delivery trucks and verify that food is protected from contamination during shipment, she explained.
Public Health Command Region--Europe became involved in the shipment because of the working relationship with Lt. Col. Michael LaGodna, command veterinarian in the office of the command surgeon at U.S. Army Europe headquarters. In addition, Lt. Col. Dwayne Bechtol, chief of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support for Europe and Africa, was involved since he has oversight of all European facilities that ship or produce food product intended for military installations, according to Col. Randall Rietcheck, PHCR--Europe deputy commander.
All confirmed Kornacki's decision.
"Lt. Col. LaGodna concurred that Staff Sgt. Kornacki had made the right call in rejecting the receipt of the contaminated food shipment," said Rietcheck "A unified response was then provided to the Camp Bondsteel dining facility manager and the vendor that the U.S. government never accepted delivery of the contaminated product."
But that left Camp Bondsteel with no special Thanksgiving dinner for their Soldiers.
The veterinary inspectors and DLA worked together to fix that problem quickly.
"A replacement food shipment was coordinated and sent to Camp Bondsteel on Friday, Nov. 23, and it was delivered on the following Monday so the Soldiers could enjoy their Thanksgiving meal," said Rietcheck.
Public Health Command District--Southern Europe inspected the vendor warehouse that had shipped the food products to Camp Bondsteel, and Capt. Hayley Ashbaugh, PHCD--SE and Bechtol conducted the inspection.
"There were no major/critical findings, and we didn't find a definitive cause" according to Ashbaugh. "We discussed how the pellets might have gotten into the truck with the facility and tried to narrow down the possibilities."
"The support my force health protection team receives in Kosovo is truly amazing." said Kornacki. "I am just happy being able to contribute to the mission in Kosovo."
"This was definitely a collaborative effort," said Maj Diane Collette, officer-in-charge at Baumholder, Germany, where Kornacki will return as NCOIC after her deployment. "Staff Sgt. Kornacki really did her job, and everyone worked together to accomplish the mission.
"I really miss my awesome NCOIC, and I am very proud of her," said Collette.