|(Editor’s note: “SPOTLIGHT” is a continuing series
about tenant activities and missions at Fort McCoy.)
What is it?
The U.S. Army Public Health Command (PHC) office at Fort McCoy protects
military personnel and their Families, Army civilians, and military
retirees from food-borne disease through observing, auditing and
The PHC is headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. and is divided
into five regions. The PHC at McCoy is assigned to Region North, which
encompasses 20 states, and is subordinate to the office at PHC
District-Fort Knox, Ky.
Staff Sgt. Mark Boals (right) observes as Sgt. Richard Smith,
Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist assigned to the Public
Health Command, inserts a swab sample of the work surface at the
Commissary into a novaLUM luminometer. The luminometer will give
a rapid reading to detect any high-energy living cells present
on the surface. The reading will determine if the area is clean
and ready for use, optimizing sanitation standing operating
(Photo by Theresa Fitzgerald)
Four active-component Soldiers are assigned to the office at Fort
McCoy. The office has two branches with separate missions.
One branch, the Food and Safety Defense Officer (FSO), is a one-person
operation. The FSO conducts commercial food audits of companies (i.e.
Kraft, Hormel, etc.) wanting to sell products to the Department of
Defense (DoD). The FSO ensures prime vendor food processing facilities
are properly taken care of and U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food
and Drug Administration guidelines are followed. If the company is in
compliance and passes the sanitary audit, the company can seek a
contract to sell products to the DoD. The FSO administers nearly 182
food audits a year.
The other branch, Veterinary Food Inspection, performs daily and weekly
sanitation inspections of all facilities that serve food, such as dining
facilities, the commissary, all Morale, Welfare and Recreation
facilities (Child Development Center, McCoy’s Community Club and the
Whitetail Ridge Chalet) and all Exchange vendors (Specialty Express Food
Court, Snack Avenue and contracted food trucks). Restrooms at these
facilities also are checked for cleanliness and sanitation.
Veterinary Food Inspectors also talk with the employees working in these
facilities to build trust and rapport and to ensure the food
preparers/servers are healthy.
State-funded dining operations (Wisconsin Military Academy, Challenge
Academy and Wisconsin State Patrol) are exempt from inspection but may
request to be inspected.
Veterinary Food Inspection has an office at the Commissary. Food
products designated for human consumption are inspected upon receipt and
in storage. To be accepted, items received must have a 50 percent shelf
The PHC at Fort McCoy covers Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and
Michigan. Any food source on military property, such as Camp Ripley,
Minn. or Army Reserve centers, is inspected.
Additionally, Reserve and Guard units contact the PHC to conduct
serviceability inspections of Meals, Ready-to-Eat, which have a shelf
life of up to three years depending on storage temperature.
What have they done?
PHC personnel conduct all food vulnerability assessments based on food
security and safety. Last year they responded to 75 subsistence recalls
of foods and nonprescription drugs that were known or suspected to be
hazardous or to have been tampered with and that were or may have been
in the DoD system. Any recall must be responded to within 24 hours. This
involves making sure the product is off the shelf so it can’t be
consumed and getting the word out if the recalled items were found to be
on post. There have been four recalls this year.
The PHC incorporates the installation support plan daily, making
risk-based assessments of public health requirements and matching
existing resources against food safety and security needs provided to
each entity on post.
During the mobilization mission, the PHC reported no food-borne
illnesses, which they attributed to the installation support plan.
Two Soldiers in the Fort McCoy PHC office competed at the 2012 District
Best Warrior competition for Best Warrior and Best Noncommissioned
Officer (NCO), winning at the Fort Knox-District level. The Soldiers
attributed their success to the many training areas available to them at
What do they have planned?
The Best Warrior and Best NCO will next compete at the Region-North
level later this year.
The PHC office will experience a change in leadership as the
NCO-in-charge is scheduled to make a permanent change of station.
Why are they important?
The PHC promotes health and prevents disease for anyone purchasing or
eating food on the installation. They ensure food safety and defense
practices and procedures are being adhered to with the preparation of
food and beverages for consumption.
Soldiers assigned to the PHC are on-call 24-hours a day and work many
weekends. As long as there are food operations on the installation, the
PHC also will be located at McCoy.
For more information about the PHC, call 608-388-3208.