[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                 February 13, 2009

Veterinary food inspectors ensure 
food sold, served at McCoy is safe

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

Food consumed, issued and sold in government facilities at Fort McCoy is the safest in the area and among the safest in the country, said food safety officials at Fort McCoy.

Photo: Spc. Valencia Wilson (foreground) and Sgt. Phil Padlan examine produce items at the Fort McCoy Commissary. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Spc. Valencia Wilson (foreground) and Sgt. Phil Padlan examine produce items at the Fort McCoy Commissary. 
(Photo by Rob Schuette)

Sgt. Phil Padlan and Spc. Valencia Wilson, Fort McCoy veterinary food service inspectors, said food sold in installation facilities is closely monitored to ensure itís safe.

Anytime something is found wrong, such as a recall of a food product, or testing indicates a faulty food product, steps are taken to immediately remove the item from sale.

"Whenever a notice, such as the peanut (products) recall, becomes known we drop everything and handle removing the item from the inventory immediately," Padlan said. "Any training or all the other inspections we have planned are put aside."

Steve Brown, the Fort McCoy Commissary store manager, said the Commissary, which is the largest food seller on the installation, takes food safety and the welfare of its military customers very seriously. The Commissary is open only to authorized military patrons.

"We pull things immediately when we learn of a recall," Brown said. "Thereís no room for error. Nowhere else (in the United States) is the food supply as protected as it is at government facilities."

The Commissary only accepts food from sources that are authorized suppliers by the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia. Brown said this means the food comes from suppliers that meet stringent government testing standards.

Likewise, Padlan said other organizations that sell or serve food on the installation, such as the dining facilities, Main Post Exchange system and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities must purchase food from suppliers who meet safety standards set by the U.S. government. This includes inspections of meals, ready-to-eat, and A-rations, which are hot rations served in field dining facilities.

The veterinary food inspectors have several ways to ensure the food coming onto post meets government standards.

Regular inspections are held to ensure food products come from authorized suppliers, Padlan said.

The Commissary undergoes daily food inspections because of the volume of food sold there, he said.

Other organizations undergo weekly or monthly food safety inspections based on risks determined by a veterinary food inspection assessment.

Wilson said the veterinary food inspectors send samples of food sold at Fort McCoy to San Antonio for lab testing to test for microorganism growth. This helps establish and ensure the quality of the food, she said.

If food doesnít meet standards, it is pulled from the supply chain, and the vendor is contacted and given a chance to rectify the process and remain a supplier. Vendors who choose not to or refuse to meet the standards are removed from the suppliersí list, she said.

Brown, who is a National Certified Food Safety manager, said the Commissary reviews the recall list daily and immediately pulls affected items from the shelves. Signs are put up in those locations to explain to customers why food items have been removed. Brown is certified by the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals.

The Commissary also will accept returns of food items that are ó even remotely ó connected with a food safety recall, he said.

"I worked in commercial stores before I came to government service, and they didnít have (and still donít have) the same safeguards and safety processes built in as we do," Brown said.

Military personnel who have any questions about food safety in the Fort McCoy community can call the food inspectors at 608-388-2782 or for Commissary food safety 608-388-3542.

Information about food safety also is available at the Commissary Web site http://www.commissaries.com.

Information about food safety recalls is available at the Web site https://www.dscp.dla.mil/subs/fso/alfood/alfood.asp.

Randy Eddy, Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office (ISO) safety manager, said ISO also keeps track of various product recalls, including food safety, and coordinates sending out postwide e-mails about them to the entire population, including civilians, as the situation warrants. 


[ Top of Page ]

[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]