Michigan National Guard troops deployed to the U.S. Capitol were served undercooked chicken and dishes with metal shavings, according to reports.
The tainted meals made many soldiers sick, prompting the Army to change the menu from hot food to packaged meals ready to eat (MREs).
“Soldiers from the Michigan National Guard who are protecting the US. Capitol in D.C. have been fed undercooked and underwhelming meals,” tweeted WXYX 7 Action News reporter Brian Abel. “One Staff Sgt tells me that metal fragments were found in meals on Sunday.”
A whistleblower told 7 Action News “nearly 75 meals were thrown out Sunday after metal shavings were found, other meals showed up undercooked making soldiers sick.”
The problem is not isolated, according to the anonymous staff sergeant with the Michigan National Guard, whose identity 7 Action News is protecting.
“Yesterday, for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw beef in them,” the sergeant said. “Just yesterday, the lunches were, soldiers had found metal shavings in their food.”
Both food quality and quantity are an issue, as a catering company’s breakfast was so skimpy the Guardsmen were served only a dinner roll and fruit juice. Some soldiers even bought their own meals instead.
“You were getting maybe a Danish and some sort of juice,” said the sergeant. “And then we had certain days where it was clearly a dinner role and Sunny D.”
After more than a dozen soldiers became sick, some going to the hospital, the matter went up the chain of command, after which there was a noticeable change on the boxes being delivered.
“They said alright, we’re going to make sure we spot check them. And we’re also going to start having them add temperatures to it,” said the whistleblower. “At 140, you cook that chicken, undercook it to 140, and now you’re telling… you’re telling us that it’s… a 30-minute drive. This is what they say on the little placard that’s (inaudible) good for four hours. No, it’s not. It wasn’t good from the start and now it’s had hours to become even more dangerous.”
Less than .01 percent of the catered meals appear to be undercooked, according to Lt. Col. Robert Carver, director of the DC Joint Information Center, reports The Epoch Times.
Carver also said that 78,000 meals were provided daily when nearly 26,000 Guard members were in Washington at the peak of the current mission.
Approximately 5,200 members from various states are still in Washington. Some 18,000 meals are being provided per day.
“That adds up to more than 1.2 million meals since the mission started. With that volume of catered meals, you would expect to see issues with some of them, and we have. At the end of the day, it’s in the military’s best interest to identify and solve problems that could adversely impact the ability of our force to perform the mission,” said Carver.
“There have been no cases of food-borne illness reported. We’re working with our contractors to address concerns. We go to their places of business and spot-check meals for cooking temperature and overall quality. We examine the kitchens for safety and cleanliness. Vendor facilities have been inspected multiple times, and no substantial issues have been recorded. Contracting personnel visit the D.C. Armory daily during the delivery of meals. We observe the deliveries, take pictures of the meals and talk to soldiers on the line about the food they get,” he said.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office was informed, after which the governor called acting Army Secretary John E. Whitley at the Pentagon and insisted the food was “unacceptable.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence also plans on eating with the Michigan National Guard this week to inspect the food herself.
“I’m pushing for an immediate fix to this problem,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi.) wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.
Sen. Gary Peters (Mi.-D) sent a letter on Monday to Mr. Whitley: “I write to convey my disappointment and frustration regarding the inadequate food and meal procurement for the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard currently protecting the Capitol building and the wider National Capital Region.”
“It has come to light that Guard Soldiers and Airmen are receiving undercooked unsanitary and inadequate meals provided through private catering companies,” said Peters.
The National Guard released the below statement in response to the allegations:
The Michigan National Guard finds the reports of undercooked and poorly prepared food provided to our service members in Washington, D.C. very concerning. The firsthand accounts and pictures of undercooked food being served clearly shows that what is being given to Michigan’s service members is unacceptable. As soon as the first reports were received, Governor Gretchen Whitmer called Acting Secretary of the Army John E. Whitley to communicate Michigan’s concerns. Other Michigan senior leaders also engaged at the highest levels of the federal government to inform those in charge and to ensure that they knew of our displeasure with the conditions. Every assurance was given that the issue would be addressed and corrected.
The Post Inaugural Security Mission is a multi-state taskforce, including Michigan’s 1000 personnel, under the command and control of the Washington D.C. National Guard. A decision was made by the leadership in Washington, D.C., to provide contracted meal service for the troops there. This contract was awarded and is monitored by the National Guard Bureau. Michigan’s Adjutant General has communicated all concerns directly to the Chief of the National Guard, General Daniel R. Hokanson, who has engaged to address the reported shortcomings of the current food service contract.
The health and wellbeing of our Michigan National Guard service members is paramount to their success as they continue to serve in missions in the United States and around the globe. Senior leaders of the Michigan National Guard will remain personally engaged with this issue and will continue to push for accountability and a solution to the ill-prepared meals being served.
The troops are scheduled to return back to Michigan shortly after March 12, the agreed upon end date for this deployment.
The report comes as Republicans who consider the continued military presence unnecessary at this point call on Biden to end the post-Jan. 6 riot deployment.
Michigan has 983 members in Washington.
Troops are supporting the Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police.