How we pioneered the campaign to

REMOVE TRANS FAT

from military food

(and ended up going to war with The Swamp) 

Christian D'Andrea 

                                                      

When I discovered that civilian bureaucrats in the Army were pumping dangerous trans fat into soldiers via their rations, I was outraged.  Trans fat causes coronary heart disease, which is the #1 killer of Americans. 

 

Some of the worst trans-fat food items in the military were the millions of "Hooah" and "FirstStrike" energy bars that the bureaucrats in charge of Army Combat Feeding were feeding to troops via rations.  The First Strike bar was 8% trans fat, by weight.  (We'd later discover that the Army was feeding literally tons of trans-fat to troops via other items, too.)  Making matters worse, the civilian bureaucrats were covering up their malfeasance by not listing the trans fat on Nutrition Facts panels — a violation of FDA regs.  Essentially, they were hiding the trans fat from the men and women in uniform being forced to ingest it.

 

It was unacceptable.  So my brothers and I decided to pioneer the movement to end trans fat in troop feeding.

A small family business, we began by becoming the Army’s R&D partner in performance nutrition, and creating the healthier (and zero-trans-fat) Soldier Fuel energy bar, which we designed to be a high-performance energy bar specifically for warfighters.

Our campaign to end trans fat in military food

Our new zero-trans-fat energy bar was winning the military's evaluations of energy bars.  Actual soldiers preferred what we'd made for them.  It was being picked up by foreign militaries.  It was featured in the U.S. Special Operations Forces Nutrition Guide.  The Army's civilian bureaucrats in charge of food were praising us (to our faces, at least).  My brothers and I were giving each other high fives.

Natick confirms Dandrea Bros bar superior

Even though our zero-trans-fat bar was healthier, and cheaper, it was being blocked from the American military feeding system (i.e. rations) and denied to American soldiers, for whom it was designed (in fact, it was designed for them as part of a cooperative research & development agreement that the Army itself was party to).  Instead, soldiers kept getting millions of the unhealthy trans-fat bars. 

The soldiers — the people in the Army who actually wear a uniform — wanted our bars and wanted trans fat removed from their food.  But the civilian bureaucrats (who dictated what these soldiers ate) did not.  We learned that the civilian Army bureaucrats who'd praised us to our faces, were actually cursing us behind our backs and working overtime to block our healthier product.

We dug deeper.  And we uncovered entrenched corruption and dereliction of duty, in the form of civilian bureaucrats in the DoD who were:

  • mandating that the government continue to buy millions of dangerous trans fat food items from corporations run by their pals

  • force-feeding these trans fat items to troops

  • blocking healthier food items from being added to rations.

 

We told these civilian DoD bureaucrats that their continued use of trans fat was unacceptable.  This did not make us popular.  But we didn't care about being popular; this was about ending a status quo that was damaging soldier health.  We continued to spend a lot of money, energy, and time trying to fix the problem.  In response, civilian Army bureaucrats and lawyers went into overdrive trying to sabotage and destroy us, while doing everything in their power to preserve the existing business arrangements, whereby the Army was using millions of taxpayer dollars to continue procuring inferior trans fat military food products from their Old Boys Network of corporations. 

Civilian Army lawyer Scott Chafin says he wants to bring the D'Andrea brothers "down several notches" and also tells a friend at a private company that he wants to use his influence to "make you some bucks in the process." 

Chafin enriches privat interests

So we fought back, on behalf of the men and women in uniform.  The soldiers downrange who were getting fed trans fat in their rations told us they can't fight the bureaucrats who were poisoning them.  The system's rigged.  So they asked us to fight for them.  And we did.

 

Given that when we'd initially partnered with the Army's Combat Feeding machine, our mission had been to pioneer the eradication of trans fat being fed to troops by starting with a healthier zero-trans-fat energy bar, we sued those same Army bureaucrats for sabotaging that venture. 

 

After four years, we won (despite a less-than-friendly set of government-appointed judges).  Turns out, we're the first small family business to defeat the corrupt civilian DoD feeding bureaucracy in the Court of Federal Claims.  We're told we made history.  But we don't care about that.  We care about the troops.  They shouldn't be fed ANY trans fat.  And we want our court victory to shine light on the rottenness in DoD contracting and military supply that needs to be cut out.  Because they're still at it.