Monday, January 19, 2009

Alan Tart: The Presidential Taste Tester from Milton

by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers

January 13, 2009 MILTON – In olden days, royalty had what they called food tasters, a seemingly thankless and terrible job whereby someone would taste the lord's food – at considerable personal risk – to stave off the very real threat of poisoning.

Though the availability of poison has not have changed, the methods by which it is detected certainly have. And that's where Councilman Alan Tart comes in.

No, he not really the president's food taster. But close.

Tart, a regional retail food specialist with the FDA since 1999, is part of a specialized, 15-member team that steps in during "high security" events or disasters. It has been called upon for the G-8 summit, hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Rita, the Republican and Democratic national conventions and Sept. 11.

Tart said the Secret Service and FBI will contact the FDA and request the team if they believe food security may be an issue. The official inauguration of the President of the United States of America Jan. 20 fall into that category.

"Food defense has been a major issue for us," said Tart, who will leave Jan. 15 and return a week later. "It has been identified as a major weakness in our fight against terrorism."

But it's just food, right? Wrong, says Tart. The chances of something catastrophic occurring are great in a week where there will be more than 20 inaugural balls, all with extensive menus.

To make sure everything goes smoothly, the team exhaustively reviews all menus, the types of food served, the sources supplying the food and the transportation, distribution and secure preparation of all meals.

Because of the volume of food needed for the crush of people coming to Washington for the historic event, the group must also inspect all refrigeration trucks and off-site facilities. That's not to mention the normal food preparation problems of proper cooking, storage and serving.

"You don't notice all this stuff until you really start looking," said Tart. "Any food served to a dignitary, especially the president, is sampled. After the sample is taken it is held in containment in case of an outbreak."

And lest the effort seem a bit much, Tart relayed the tale of some very real food terrorism.

In The Dalles, Ore. in 1984, the members of the radical Rajneeshee cult contaminated water and the salad bars of 10 local restaurants with salmonella, causing 751 cases of illness. They did it to sway the Wasco County elections, hoping that people would be so sick they couldn't outvote the cult's own candidates. Luckily, it didn't work, and no one died from the attacks.

"It can definitely be done," said Tart.


Anonymous said...

So he tastes the President's meat?

Anonymous said...

Jeez.....where was this guy while I was in office? To heck with Monica, I wouldn't have needed her!


Anonymous said...

What a cool opportunity; there's many of us that wish we could find a way to be there today for this historic occasion.

Anonymous said...

That is what I thought also several years ago, but I can tell you from personal experience, it is not as cool as you think. It actually put me back in my career and has haunted my personal relationships.

Hopefully Mr. Tart will be very careful with his samples and certainly wont wear a blue dress.

Monica Lewinsky

Anonymous said...

Although you may not agree with one's sexual preference, you should not ridicule him, as is being done here by Bill and Monica.

Anonymous said...

One tip, leather chaps are dry clean only.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Hoss C*d, thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

For crying out loud, this dosent have anything to do with one's sexual preference. Give the man a break. Whether it was a hetrosexual or homosexual, male or female, someone has to do the job. Just let him do it, and do it proudly, and do it good. God made different types of ice cream for different types of people, and I'll bet you are just being ugly because you dont like chocolate ice cream?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see Alan on TV? He was on CNN being interviewed.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Julie will be peeved she wasn't on tv.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a few people need to get a life, in the meantime, here's a definition I think is befitting fools.

One entry found.

Main Entry: ig·no·rant
Pronunciation: \ˈig-n(ə-)rənt\
Function: adjective
Date: 14th century
1 a: destitute of knowledge or education ignorant society ; also : lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified i.e. that would be you fools b: resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence i.e.ignorant errors
2: unaware , uninformed
— ig·no·rant·ly adverb
— ig·no·rant·ness noun
synonyms ignorant , illiterate , unlettered , untutored , unlearned

Anonymous said...

Some involved are not familiar with the "one entry" you speak of?

Anonymous said...

Read the definition again and apply it.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard from councilmember Tart as to how the President's meat actually tasted?

Anonymous said...

Enough with the sexual innuendos. Anyone that needs to go on and on about this topic must have a secret.

Come out of the closet already and admit that YOU want to be the taster.

Anonymous said...

Only if it is chocolate. How much meat does he have to taste?