Food Inspection and Becoming a 68 Romeo in the American Army
Today, the United States Army is active all over the world. Whether it is defending America or providing vital disaster relief services, the safety of the food consumed by the soldier and civilian alike is a vital concern.
For this reason, ensuring that all soldiers receive healthy and tasty food is a core part of protecting the ability of America’s soldiers to defend their nation.
The veterinary food inspection specialist plays a vital role in this mission by inspecting and evaluating all types of food that will be eventually consumed by his or her fellow soldiers.
Known as the Military Occupational Specialty 68 Romeo, this field can also prepare a soldier for a wide range of careers in the civilian sector.
The History of Veterinary Food Inspection
The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps was established on June 3, 1916 in order to provide care for the Army’s animals.
As time progressed and the Army’s need for animal care started to decline, the Veterinary Corps expanded into other areas, most notably ensuring that the food used by soldiers and dependents was of the highest quality.
Today, members of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, most notably food inspection specialists, help to ensure the safety of a vast number of soldiers and civilians.
What Does a Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist Do?
A veterinary food inspection specialist works in combination with other enlisted personnel in the Army Veterinary Corps to provide food inspection and regulation services under the direction of an officer.
Because of the importance of ensuring that the food consumed by soldiers and their dependents alike is safe, these specialists are deployed all over the world, to both established military bases and active combat zones.
The specific duties of a 68 Romeo include the following:
- The soldier inspects food intended for human consumption but upon delivery and while in storage.
- Evaluates the condition of food in storage by examining its packaging, packing and marking to determine if they comply with current Department of Defense (DoD) requirements. In addition, the 68 Romeo will inspect refrigerated storage areas to ensure that the current temperature is adequate to preserve the food supplies.
- Inspects and evaluates food preparation areas, including mess halls, on-base food vendors and commissary stores.
- The food inspection specialist will evaluate food samples by using a variety of testing methods.
In addition, food inspection specialists are also tasked with ensuring that there is no fraud or other misconduct on the part of defense contractors. For this reason, the 68 Romeo must be able to evaluate whether or not a supplier is currently in compliance with general DoD regulations.
In this case, the food inspection specialist will be required to evaluate the contractor’s actions, provide detailed records of any deficiencies in the supplies or the contractor’s conduct, and make recommendations on how best to rectify the issue.
Should legal action become necessary, the food inspection specialist’s records become a vital component of the government’s case. For this reason, a food inspection specialist’s reports must be both accurate and complete.
Becoming a Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist
For those seeking to become a food inspection specialist, there are several important steps to take before enlisting. Becoming a 68 Romeo requires a score of at least 95 on the skilled technical component of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
Achieving this score will require a high level of comprehension of the following sections of the ASVAB test:
- Word knowledge.
- Paragraph comprehension.
- General science.
- Mechanical comprehension.
- Mathematics knowledge.
In order to obtain the required minimum score on the ASVAB, those individuals who are interested in becoming 68 Romeos should focus on core English, science and mathematics courses while attending high school.
Older individuals who are planning on enlisting should make certain that they have an effective grasp of these subjects.
In some cases, engaging in remedial work before taking the ASVAB may be advised to ensure that the enlistee will be eligible to become a veterinary food inspection specialist.
In addition, a veterinary food inspection specialist should have a working knowledge of food preparation techniques and enjoy tasting a wide variety of foods.
Taste-tests are a common method of verifying whether the food has been properly prepared, meaning that any 68 Romeo will have to be able to distinguish minor variations in the taste of a wide variety of foods.
Finally, anyone intending on joining the Army should ensure that they are in a physically fit condition in order to prepare themselves for basic training and the later physical demands that will confront every soldier.
[qs_listing areaofinterest=”VETERINARY-ASSISTING-TECHNOLOGY” alphabet=”K”]
Training to Become a Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist
All soldiers must successfully complete Basic Combat Training before advancing on to their specialty.
Basic combat training is a course that lasts 10 weeks and equips the recruit with the physical and mental skills he or she will need to effectively work with a team of soldiers.
Basic training also prepares the soldier to face combat, should he or she be deployed to a combat zone.
After completing basic training, the soldier will spend at least eight weeks of Advanced Individual Training in the specific skills needed by a food inspection specialist.
Among the skills the soldier will learn are the following:
- Inspection of red meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products and vegetables and fruit.
- How to identify unsanitary conditions in food storage and preparation areas.
- How to determine whether or not food is safe to consume.
- How to inspect packaged food in order to determine if the packaging is still intact and the food safe to consume.
- How to properly document and report on food safety and procurement violations.
In addition, the soldier will be trained in basic cooking and food preparation techniques in order effectively inspect food preparation areas as a part of his or her duties.
After completing this training period, the soldier will then be deployed to whatever region currently needs a veterinary food inspection specialist.
After leaving the Army, many food inspection specialists find their skills in great demand by private and public health inspection agencies.
The Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Commerce are all examples of federal agencies that have a need for qualified inspectors at all levels of the organization, ranging from field workers to management personnel.
In addition, many local agencies, including city and county health agencies, school districts and public hospitals need skilled food inspection specialists to ensure the safety of their employees and patrons.
Ultimately, those individuals interested in a career that protects their fellow soldiers and civilians from improperly prepared food while also providing numerous civilian employment opportunities would be well advised to consider a career as a 68 Romeo.[qs_listing areaofinterest=”VETERINARY-ASSISTING-TECHNOLOGY” alphabet=”K”]