a. The Department of Defense (DOD) is concerned about the quality of the foods it procures, transports, stores, and issues. This concern is not unfounded. Of the large quantities being handled, a substantial amount of food has to be disposed of, or special action is taken in order to maintain quality and wholesomeness standards.

b. It is clear that all foods are perishable, regardless of the classification one may have seen for a particular food item. Some foods become unfit for human consumption more quickly than others. Foods are quite unlike hardware such as nuts and bolts. Yet, modern food markets and commissaries with their processed and preserved foods tend to give their customers the impression of similar durability for many food items. This is where the problem begins.

c. Food, from the time it is harvested, slaughtered, or processed, is continually undergoing deterioration. This presents a problem to DOD because food supplies have to be purchased well in advance of anticipated usage. Large quantities of food are lost each year due to deterioration. The problem is caused by the perishable nature of food as well as to the length of the supply chain. Because of these factors, veterinary food inspection specialists are tasked with recognizing deterioration in subsistence and making recommendations to preclude public health problems and financial losses to the government.

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