CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo- On 23 January, the veterinary team hands out cookies and other treats to a group of Task Force Medical (TFMED) Soldiers. However, instead of taking a bite, they all bring the treats up to their noses and take a big whiff. Looks strange, but it a part of an organoleptic test held by the TFMED food inspector during the unit’s deployment in Kosovo.
What is Organoleptic Testing?
According to online sources, it is the analysis of the properties of products and materials- mainly foodstuffs- by means of the five senses. It is usually done by tasters and is widely used to evaluate the quality of such items like wine, cheese and canned goods.
“It is one of the many test we use to determine if food needs to be extended in the stores around post, stated SSgt. Generosa Wagner, the Army Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist Enlisted (91R) assigned to 30th MED brigade and deployed to Kosovo. “Having individuals taste the food that has expired to determine if it still appeals to their taste buds allows use come up with a process to extend the shelf life of foods.”
Food Inspectors (91R) are part of the Veterinary Corps and are tasked with inspecting the dining facilities to ensure the food cooked is to a certain standard. In addition, they inspect all of the Exchange stores operating on the posts. They determine when food can be sold outside of the expiration date that is printed on the package and when it needs to be completely taken off the shelf. All items that have a percent off sticker have usually gone through this testing process.
Each Soldier who participated received a form to complete as they tested and tasted the numerous items. They had to rank the items on physical form, taste, odor, texture and any other things that might have stood out for them. There were plenty of disgusted faces as well of sounds of enjoyment heard around the room.
“People just thought they were showing up to get free snacks, but we put them to work.,” stated Cpt. Shawn Thomas, the veterinarian from 30th MED Brigade assigned to the TFMED during the deployment to Kosovo. “Ultimately it was fun to be able to eat all of the cookies and treats as we completed our task.”