Naples commissary’s chicken supplier has plant re-inspected
Stars and Stripes March 21, 2008
The chicken plant that supplies fresh poultry to U.S. commissaries in Italy was re-inspected Thursday after having its contract suspended earlier this year. Results from the inspection, which can take a week to 10 days, will determine if Arena chicken will be back on commissary shelves anytime soon.
Suspension of the contract came after samples taken in early February by U.S. Army veterinarians turned up traces of coliform bacteria in the water used to clean chicken after it is gutted. Arena Chicken, located in Bojano in southern Italy, is the sole provider of fresh poultry to U.S. military commissaries in Italy.
Commissary staffers in Naples were told March 3 of the contract suspension, and that the store temporarily would not sell Arena chicken. However, they were permitted to continue selling what they had in inventory, which remained on the store’s shelves for four to five days before being sold out, assistant grocery manger Lucia Ciuccio said.
Veterinary and commissary officials stressed the chicken posed no health risks if properly cooked.
“My food safety experts told me that the coliforms found posed no health risk, because they’re easily killed by heat,” said Phillip Tegtmeier, public affairs officer for Europe Regional Veterinary Command. “In short, there were no facts to support a product recall.”
Although the Defense Commissary Agency Europe was advised of problems with the supplier at the end of February, consumers weren’t actually notified of the failed inspection results until two weeks later, when Naples base commanding officer Capt. Floyd Hehe mentioned it in his weekly column in the base paper last Friday.
As to why the public wasn’t notified sooner, officials at DeCA-Europe said there was a breakdown in communications.
“We normally have a good process in place between the DeCA-Europe region and the U.S. Army Regional Veterinarian command,” said Gerri Young, spokesperson for DeCA-Europe. “We are meeting (this week) to determine a more efficient communication method to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Young said.