Food inspectors from Veterinary Branch Kaiserslautern demonstrate selfless duty

Photo By Michelle Thum | Sgt. Dominique Williams and Staff Sgt. Abigail Lopez (left to right), food inspectors at Veterinary Branch Kaiserslautern, inspecting freight for damages.



Story by Michelle Thum 

Regional Health Command Europe 

LANDSTUHL, Germany — Public Health Command Europe food inspectors worked countless hours of overtime during the holidays to ensure service members, contractors and their families received safe food supplies through annual, monthly and weekly food safety and food defense inspections.

Public Health Activity – Rheinland-Pfalz Veterinary Branch Kaiserslautern is the office of primary responsibility for food defense and food safety missions. They are responsible for food safety and defense of subsistence purchased and delivered to Department of Defense installations, from the time a delivery vehicle enters the installation boundary, during storage, and until food is either consumed or sold.

VBK provides support to the largest Defense Commissary Agency perishable distribution facility outside the U.S., Kaiserslautern Cold Storage, to ensure service members, civilians and their families have a traditional American holiday dinner away from home.

There was a delay in the food supply shipment due to three rolled vessels creating a domino effect from port to port.

“A delay in shipment is difficult to handle during the holidays since a lot of our green suiters and local nationals were on leave,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Garza, noncommissioned officer in charge at PHA-RP Veterinary Branch Kaiserslautern. “The freight didn’t get here until two weeks later which caused a significant back up. We all had to work tireless extra hours to ensure DoD food supplies were properly inspected and the installation facility DECA was able to restock for the holidays.”

The food inspectors supported over 33 commissaries, four Nexmarts, U.S. Embassies and Army and Air Force Exchange Services throughout 10 countries, four operating zones and five time zones during the holidays. That process consisted of receiving and offloading containers to ensure commodities arrive and depart in a good quality condition and ensuring the safest and highest-quality food and drink.

Public Health Command Europe VS Branch personnel serve as the food protection program subject matter experts providing guidance to superiors and subordinates for two Public Health Activities, and 18 Veterinary Service Branches. They oversee 18 DoD installations, four forward operating bases with 1,871 food facilities in 10 different countries across the entire European footprint.

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