Last Updated: June 30th, 2023By Tags: ,

FORT KNOX, KY – U.S. Army food inspectors working out of the Veterinary Clinic on base, conduct a routine inspection of the Commissary at Fort Knox, Ky. May 31, 2023.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “It is estimated that each year one in six Americans get sick from contaminated food or beverages.”

Cpl. Briana Lawrence closely examines the dates on bottles of smoothie in Fort Knox, Ky. on May 31, 2023. | Lanie Guinn

Spc. Omar Gutierrez is a food inspector that has an important job of ensuring and maintaining good food quality on base.

“My duties are to take care of the UGR (Unitized Group Ration) Heat and Serve and the MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) to make sure those facilities are up to standards,” said Gutierrez.

Making sure boxes are well kept and the temperatures are good are other duties he is responsible for.

Sgt. Claude Zohoun, another food inspector, explains a critical step in food safety.

“I feel that the most important thing is the receipt inspections, this is making sure things haven’t been tampered with,” Zohoun said. “Someone could easily poison some of the food or any of the drinks and then we’d have many Soldiers down and families out.”

Additionally, they make sure chemicals are in a completely different area than food. They also check food that should be separated on different pallets such as onions and tomatoes. These are some ways to maintain food safety.

Spc. Cameron Henry is inspecting the quality of all of the fruit in Fort Knox, Ky. on May 31, 2023. | Lanie Guinn

Spc. Marcario Parks explains his pathway to becoming a food inspector.

“You do have to go to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) which was in Fort Sam Houston. My recruiter recommended it because I do like to cook,” Parks said. “It was interesting to see how to not only protect Soldiers for their welfare, but also people who eat on post.”

Another standard they uphold is called Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). This is a point where some food can turn into a health risk if control is lost. For instance, rotisserie chicken has to be checked every two hours and remain at a steady temperature. The inspectors said that baby food falls under this category and is one of the most important to check.

Zohoun shared some further resources, “We have a lot of events like food safety month (September) and on our Facebook page where you can go and get information about food there,” Zohoun said. “If anybody wanted to contact us, we are located in the vet clinic in the basement,” he added.