JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington -- As a result of the timely support and expertise of a four-person team from Public Health Activity-Fort Lewis (PHA-FL), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and the Oregon National Guard was able to extend the shelf life of more than $20,000 worth of tailored operational training meals (TOTM).

Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Gunn, food safety officer, and three food safety specialists, traveled to Clackamas, Oregon, to inspect 376 cases of TOTM rations that had reached their expiration dates.

"We performed an open package inspection and tested each item within, and we then measured the findings," Gunn explained. "This included a destructive open package inspection of selected sample sizes. If those findings stayed below a certain amount, which they did by a long measure, then they can be extended."

As a result of the inspection, the rations could be extended for an additional 30 days. With the extended shelf life, Gunn said the TOTMs would be distributed to five National Guard units in Oregon for their use.

The TOTM is a totally self-contained packet consisting of a meal packed in a flexible meal bag that is lightweight and fits easily into the pockets of military uniforms. They are generally for special missions, and intended for brief meals and not long-term storage or use.

"As a training tool, these meals will aid units in gaining familiarity with the preparation, usage, consumption, and disposal of pre-packed meals similar to Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE)," Gunn said.