By Ms. Michelle Thum (Regional Health Command Europe)November 30, 2018
Public Health Command Europe's Veterinary Food Inspection Specialists are responsible for safeguarding warfighters and their families by inspecting and ensuring wholesome and safe food.
When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recalled cake mixes due to potential Salmonella contamination, Public Health Activity-Italy food inspectors helped commissaries at all DoD bases in Italy and Spain remove more than 200 packages of cake mix within seven hours of notification, significantly exceeding the U.S. Army Medical Command's standard of 72 hours.
"In FY18, Public Health Activity-Italy implemented a 24-hour standard for veterinary food inspectors to identify all foods under recall and coordinate with accountable officers to remove these food items from further issue to the DoD." explained Col. Rebecca Porter, PHCE commander.
Army Veterinary Food Inspection Specialists ensure the safety and the well-being of Service Members and their Families by inspecting food and beverage products purchased by the Department of Defense and sold on military installations. Additionally, food inspectors collect samples for lab testing and make sure all facilities that work with the Department of Defense are buying from approved vendors.
"Veterinary Food Inspection Specialists play an important role in protecting our Warfighters. I understand more and more how important my role as a Food Inspector is. The mission can't be executed without food. The entire mission fails if you have sick Soldiers who can't do their job because of unsafe food." said Sgt. Joshua G. Philpot, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Vicenza Food Protection Branch.
"We [food inspectors] are prescribed the responsibility to inspect all food products intended for human consumption. By inspecting the food, we ensure that it's stored properly and monitored for deterioration, which could potentially lead to food borne illness."
But most often veterinary food inspection specialists work out of a public view.
"Most of the food inspector's works goes unnoticed because people aren't aware that our job exists," explained Philpot. "Either they don't think that food gets tested or they believe that outside agencies come onto our installations and inspect our food and water. We are behind the scenes in the back of our commissaries, in the dining facility kitchens, and fast food restaurants inspecting the receiving of food."
In addition to inspecting and testing sustenance items at military installations, veterinary food inspection specialists provide crucial support to Service Members in the combat environments. They ensure the safety of Meals Ready to Eat, Unitized Group Rations and bottled water, and protect against food and waterborne disease.
Public Health Command Europe provides public health and veterinary medical services in support of EUCOM, AFRICOM and CENTCOM to enable readiness, conserve the fighting strength, and protect the health of our military forces and their families.