The United States Army recently recognized a group of Wisconsin professionals for their role in providing food safety training for an Army Reserve unit headed overseas. Bill Wendorf, UW College of Agricultural and Life Sciences food scientist is among those earning Commander’s Coins. A complete news release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection follows.
Wisconsin Food Safety Gurus Coach Army Unit Preparing For Mid-East Duty
MADISON – When the Army needs dairy expertise, it comes to Wisconsin.
Or at least takes advantage of the fact that its training troops in the heart of Americas Dairyland.
Commanders coins, medals awarded for providing exceptional service, recently arrived at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for department staff and others who were called to Fort McCoy last fall. They trained an Army reserve unit headed to the Middle East with dairy plant inspection as part of its mission.
Department employees recognized were Howard Bixby, Baraboo; Glen Goldschmidt, Clintonville; Lee Larsen, Green Bay; and Dale Osuldsen, Marshfield. Also receiving commanders coins were Bill Wendorf of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Al Vervoort of the cleaning supplier Ecolab, and Dave Metzig of Willow Creek Cheese, Berlin.
The group trained the 949th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Services), an Army Reserve unit from Ames, Iowa, with soldiers from eight states. Heading up the unit is Major Michael Riley, a Wisconsin native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
Major Riley explains that a Veterinary Services detachments mission is to provide medical care to military working dogs and provide food safety inspection services to all branches of the military. The 949th was mobilized in August in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and spent three months training at Fort McCoy before shipping out to Kuwait, Qatar and Djibouti.
The 949th contacted the departments Food Safety Division looking for training in pasteurization processes, the most critical point in dairy plant food safety, to provide a refresher course for some soldiers and new information for others. After a day of classroom instruction at Fort McCoy, the group of about 40 visited Willow Creek Cheese for some real-world insight.
It was training that is similar to that provided to civilian groups including dairy plant staff and department employees, but Goldschmidt noted, “This was the most attentive group we’ve ever had.”
“We have used the dairy training to perform audits of several dairy plants in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan,” Riley writes in an email from his Middle Eastern post.
“As part of our food safety mission, it is the job of the veterinarians and the food safety specialist warrant officer to conduct periodic audits of commercial companies supplying the U.S. military. During these audits, we are ensuring food products meant for the troops are processed properly and are safe. While these safety systems are taken for granted in the United States, it can be a very different situation in other parts of the world.”
“We do look for civilian training opportunities, especially in complex and technical areas,” Riley wrote. “If we can find someone who does a certain job every day, we get the most up-to-date information.” The unit also received some instruction in meat processing at Craigs Meats and Catering, Mindoro, with Dr. Julie McGuinn, a veterinarian with the Food Safety Division in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. And several veterinary clinics in the Tomah, Sparta and La Crosse areas allowed Army veterinarians to help with large and small animal care in preparation for their deployment.
“Training soldiers for their mission isn’t usually part of our mission in the Food Safety Division, but we’re glad to do it,” Division Administrator Steve Steinhoff said. “Our staff does good work day in and day out, and its nice for them to be recognized for their expertise and experience, as well as to share it outside of our usual audience.”