Guest Column | September 20, 2017

Food Defense: A U.S. Army Perspective

Food Defense: A U.S. Army Perspective

By Greg Scher, CW4 (RET) U.S. Army

In 1997, I was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Vet Corp responsible for the Central Mediterranean Branch in Italy. A bright Veterinarian, Leslie Huck, took me aside and showed me a checklist he was developing. The checklist was focused on intentional contamination and it made me think about how the military is always a target for acts of violence — as long as there have been armies, intentionally adulterating food has been a way to hurt them. “We are trying to protect the military’s food chain, of course this is important,” I thought.

I had seen Food Defense at Right Away Foods, the old meals ready-to-eat (MRE) assembler in McAllen, TX where I was the Quality Auditor for the Government Contract. But at that point, my career had focused on safety and quality of food and I hadn’t seen Food Defense as a program. Instead, I viewed it simply as a security issue. Leslie Huck’s checklist changed that. I figured Food Defense to be the perfect fit between technical knowledge of the food chain and a military-focused mind constantly looking for vulnerabilities in real defenses.