GRUENSTADT, Germany- The Regional Health Command Europe command sergeant major and leadership teams of Public Health Command Europe and Public Health Activity- Rheinland-Pfalz recently toured the U.S. Army and Air Force Exchange Service bakery which is supported by PHA-RP food inspectors.
The bakery, built in 1982, is the Exchange’s, largest production plant in the world. Not only does it provide food and water families need, but it also supplies food products to many of the various companies operating on military bases in Europe and the Middle East.
Each day, the plant produces more than two-hundred varieties of fresh baked goods such as donuts, cakes, tortillas, buns and breads. They are identical to the kind service members, Department of Defense civilians and their families are accustomed to in the United States – right down to the packaging, recipes and ingredients.
“Ninety-percent of the ingredients, such as flour, are imported from the United States but sugar and some packing materials are acquired locally,” said manager Mathias Baum. “There is a quality assurance lab on-site that is responsible for taking daily samples and we are routinely inspected by local Army veterinary food inspectors.”
Inspecting the bakery is one of Sgt. Daniel Schlumbohm’s many responsibilities as a veterinary food inspector at Public Health Activity Rheinland-Pfalz.
“The on-site quality assurance lab checks the actual products and we are here to support them,” said Schlumbohm. “We mainly come into play when the products need to be distributed to the facilities across Europe or even the Middle East.”
At the Gruenstadt facility, the veterinary food inspector’s role is specific and they inspect the areas where the food is stored, loaded and transported.
“We focus primarily on the storage and transport conditions to ensure there was no tampering, temperature abuse or contamination of the goods.” Schlumbohm said. “I inspect the trucks that enter the facility grounds as they prepare for transit.”
Prior to arriving in Germany, Schlumbohm, a native of Orlando, was stationed in South Korea and in the U.S.
“Here in Europe, there is a whole other aspect of food inspection than what you learn stateside,” Schlumbohm added. “When operating overseas, you have to jump through more hoops when it comes to health certificates and shelf life. Back in the U.S. you don’t have to worry about crossing international borders and it is much easier to receive the product.”
Schlumbohm started working at the Gruenstadt bakery in June of this year.
“I’ve been very blessed and appreciative of the opportunities that the Army has provided me with and it’s a phenomenal job,” Schlumbohm said. “Getting to see the behind the scenes aspect of how food gets delivered from farm to store, to the plate is really interesting and a lot of people don’t really think about that part.”
According to Schlumbohm, his job is not very well known but is a huge necessity.
“I enjoy knowing that I do my part in ensuring that safe and wholesome food is available and keeping our soldiers and their families safe,” added Schlumbohm. “It’s good to know that people can enjoy their favorite foods from home here in Europe or at deployed locations.”