Salmonella and Army use of low-moisture foods

Non-typhoidal Salmonella is a foodborne pathogen that has one of the highest incidences of hospitalizations and deaths. The foodborne illness symptoms can include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The high incidence of foodborne illness coupled with a large number of outbreaks in commercial low moisture foods LMF such as peanut butter prompted Army researchers to investigate S. enterica survivability in LMF rations.

The majority of LMF are not cooked prior to consumption so contamination at the time of manufacture could lead to illness when consumed by the soldier. In addition, military rations are prepositioned and can be stored for up to 3 years at various climate conditions therefore, this study evaluated various storage temperatures to simulate conditions in the field. LMF products in this study were chosen based on categories outlined by Institute of Food Safety and Health peanut butter, mocha desert bar, dehydrated egg, chocolate protein drink and cran-raspberry first strike bar.

Previous studies identified potential synergistic effect on S. enterica survival in high fat, low water activity foods such as peanut butter. This experiment expanded on these predictions and evaluated foods with varying compositions which undergo unique storage requirements prior to consumption.

Survival of salmonella enterica in low moisture military ration products

Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center

Flock,Genevieve,  Richardson,MichellePacitto,DominiqueCowell,CourtneyAnderson,NateMarek,PatrickSenecal,Andy

03 June 2020

Handheld inspection tool may increase food safety for soldiers

Military food inspectors may one day hold the key to avoiding foodborne illness in the palms of their hands. The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is working to develop a small, sensitive, hand-held device that will both capture and detect dangerous pathogens that can cause food-related illness. 

The effort received a 2013 U. S. Food and Drug Administration leveraging and collaboration award. Under the award, scientists from Food Protection Team and Macromolecular Sciences and Engineering Team at the Natick Soldier Research, napoleonDevelopment and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, are collaborating with the FDA, Winchester Engineering and Analytical Center, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NSRDEC originally came up with the idea of conductive membrane sensors and performed the initial research under the Army’s 6.1 basic research programs. This research is the basis for the collaboration with the FDA and MIT.

The food inspection tool will reduce the danger soldiers face from contaminated food. Food safety is critical to combat readiness. Soldier performance, quality of life, and health can be seriously affected by undetected pathogens in food.

“Military operations at some overseas locations where food is procured locally and food safety laws are lenient, are especially problematic. Soldiers can lose a lot of time from work because they get sick from pathogens present in water and food,” Andre Senecal said. “We are starting our work with E. coli O157:H7, but the goal is to look at all microbial pathogens and toxins that they produce.”

“The leading cause of illness among troops has historically been gastroenteritis, with one of the primary culprits being E. coli,” McGraw explained.

Biosensors consist of a biological component, such as an antibody or DNA that is capable of capturing, detecting and recording information about a measurable physical change in the biosensor system.

Army food inspection team in Japan trains for rapid testing

Twice now I’ve provided food safety talks to groups of U.S. military personnel from Fort Riley about to be deployed to Afghanistan to work on rebuilding projects. I always feel goofy because there are many in the audience who know far more about such safety matters than I do. And since arriving in Manhattan (Kansas) four years ago, I’ve gotten to know a number of food-safety types based in the military. They’ve got some awesome stuff and people.

So when I read in Stars and Stripes that people shouldn’t be too fearful of food products grown and manufactured in Japan and sold on U.S. military bases, like Camp Kinser in Okinawa, I’ll go with believing.

According to the story, the Army is setting up two laboratories — on Camp Kinser and on Camp Zama in mainland Japan — to perform more intensive testing of foods and beverages.

Two instructors from the Army Veterinary Science’s Food Safety and Defense Branch at Fort Sam Houston in Texas recently spent three weeks at Camp Kinser training lab technicians and managers to "rapid test" a variety of items.

Part of the Army mission is to protect troops from any possible threats posed by terrorists, who might see the food supply as an easy target, said Lt. Col. Margery Hanfelt, a special projects chief with the Department of Veterinary Science.

"Just to know that we have these capabilities to test right away is a deterrent," she said.

The Veterinary Service provides inspections for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and other Defense agencies. The Air Force has its own inspectors.

Inspectors — Army personnel and Japanese civilians — inspect all local vendors and the food served on the bases. There are about 55 inspectors throughout Japan, 15 of them on Okinawa.