STOP representatives are available for interviews and comments.

  • eNews June 2013 - a monthly update

    Tue, 07/02/2013 - 10:32am -- SRutledge


     eNews  June 2013

    A monthly update from STOP


    wonky news
    The New STOP Website is Here to Better Serve You!

    And we’re celebrating with a giveaway.

    For years, our website has been a “lifeline” for people like you and thousands of others affected by foodborne illness.

    But, along the way, you’ve shared your concerns and suggestions for our site. And we’ve listened!

    Now, on STOP’s internet home, you’ll see a brand new look and feel along with updated content and easier navigation—all designed with you, our readers, top of mind.

    We’re excited to unveil our new site. We hope you are too!Here are some highlights of what you’ll experience at our new site:

    • Complete visual redesign giving you a fresh, clean look that’s visually attractive and pleasing to peruse.
    • New navigation making it easier to find what you’re looking for.
    • Content that’s better organized so you can search more quickly for exactly what you need.
    • More content and resources to assist you with valuable information, and support to help you cope with the challenges of a foodborne illness.

    Now, about that giveaway.

    The STOP team has been hard at work behind the scenes improving our website. And,while we’re enthusiastic about all the changes, your impressions and feedback matter most.

    So, please take a minute (or maybe ten) to visit and then submit comments via our online form.

    Please let us know if you like our new site, what you like best and give us your thoughts on anything you think we can do to improve it even more.


    Your feedback means a lot and, when we receive it by July 7, you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card.

    With your help, we’ll continue our work at 

    to enhance the content and make it even more user-friendly for you well in the future.

    Thank you, as always, for being a special part of our mission. We hope you enjoy using STOP’s new website! 


    Victims of Leafy Greens Foodborne Illness Travel to California Farms to See Systems in Place for Prevention

      “We will carry your faces and voices with us."

    When STOP advocate Lauren Bush heard those words from California leafy greens farmers during her recent visit to their farms, she knew she had accomplished her mission for the trip.“After what I saw this week, I can definitely tell other consumers that steps are being taken by California leafy greens farmers to protect others from getting sick,” says Lauren.

    Lauren was sickened in the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to spinach and was among ten food safety advocates who participated in a tour of California farms on June 12-14, 2013 organized by the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA) and STOP.LGMA was formed in 2007 when California farmers came together to raise the bar for food safety. LGMA members work collaboratively to protect public health by reducing potential sources of contamination in California-grown leafy greens.

    LGMA reached out to STOP a few months ago with an invitation for victims and staff to travel to their farms to learn about operations and explore how they can work together to improve food safety.

    “We wanted this group to see the systems in place for California leafy greens that help to prevent people from becoming sick,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the LGMA. “But we also really wanted to hear their stories and to learn about the concerns of people who have been impacted by foodborne illness.”

    And, for Lauren, it sounds like Mr. Horsfall achieved his goal.

    “I was really touched that not only did the farmers we met this past week really listen to our stories, but I truly could feel the impact,” commented Lauren.

    After her experience, Lauren is motivated to take action.


    “I left the meeting with several projects in mind,” noted Lauren.


     “In New York City, where I live, not all neighborhoods have good produce available. Products are often old and wilted. My plan is two-fold. First, I hope to contact the commercial shipping labor unions to raise awareness of the drivers’ responsibility to maintain their refrigeration units and the possible food safety consequences,” says Lauren.

    Part two of Lauren’s plan includes speaking with the regional food distribution centers to ask that they require “TellTale Monitors” in all trucks. “These small devices cost just $12-20 but do an important job of monitoring and recording refrigeration levels during drivers’ routes,” explains Lauren. “My hope is that these small efforts will have a big impact on the quality and safety of produce in food retailers across the region.” 

    STOP extends big thanks to Lauren and all of the enthusiastic advocates who traveled with us to CA, shared their stories and are now putting their new knowledge to work for improved food safety. STOP is also very grateful to Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement for this opportunity to partner to help prevent foodborne illness. We especially appreciate the genuine and heartfelt interest in working together that’s been shown by the LGMA.


    “We know it’s very difficult for these individuals to recount stories of how they became ill and the tragic impacts of foodborne illness they have personally experienced,” pointed out Ryan Talley, chairman of the LGMA and a producer of leafy greens. “I asked these remarkable people to please continue to talk about their experiences and relay them to farmers like us, because we need to hear it. Together, farmers and consumers can make a difference in making food safer.”


    To hear impressions from people who participated in the tour, click here.

    To read a blog post about the tour by Ryan Talley, LGMA Chairman, click here.

    Find more  information on the LGMA here: 

    California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement.


    Trust What You’re Eating is Safe with Food Traceability

    When you’re out grocery shopping, are you one of those savvy shoppers walking around with your smartphone scanning QR (quick response) or barcodes on the products you’re about to purchase?

    If so, then you know the power of food traceability.

    If not, this article just might inspire you to become empowered by food traceability technology that helps keep your food and family safe.

    First, What is Food Traceability?

    Food traceability is a process in which food is tracked and traced from farm to fork.

    For you, the consumer, food traceability makes it possible to learn where your food comes from, how it’s been produced and get potentially life-saving information about the food you purchasesuch as recall notifications.

    For government, food traceability plays a vital role in efficiently tracing food back to its origins during a food recall or foodborne illness outbreak. It’s an important link in protecting public health as it helps to more quickly and accurately identify the source of contaminated food, remove it from the marketplace and communicate to the supply chain.

    For companies, food traceability is a valuable tool used to connect and build relationships with consumers like you.

    How Does Food Traceability Work?

    Food traceability is a complex worldwide process.

    To make things simple, we’ll focus here on how food traceability works and helps people like you when you’re out picking up your favorite foods.

    In our scenario, picture yourself at the local grocery store.You reach for a package of tomatoes and, with your smartphone handy, you scan the QR code on the label. In just seconds, you know exactly where and how your tomatoes were grown, when they were harvested and if the product happens to be subject to a recall.

    And there’s more.

    Food traceability isn’t just about food data. Food traceability has become quite sophisticated, delivering a delightful digital experience for people using it. For instance, as you check out those tomatoes you’re about to buy, why not click on some pictures of the farm, read the story of the farmer, learn nutrition information and get recipes. You can send feedback to the farmer, too.

    It’s all at your fingertips with food traceability technology.

    Start Tracing Your Food Today

    To take the first step toward tracing your food, click below to download QR apps/readers for your smartphone:

    For your iPhone. Scans both QR codes and barcodes.

    For your Android. Several options from which to choose.

    For your Blackberry. Several options from which to choose.

    Share Your Food Traceability Experience

    We’re always interested in learning how our readers help keep their food safe. If you’ve got a food traceability experience you want to share with us, please do!

    Email Stanley Rutledge, Program Director, at

    Learn More

    Learn more about food traceability with these resources we think you’ll find helpful:

    Food Safety News Article:

    The Changing World of Food Traceability

    Food Safety News Article: 

    Putting Food Traceability at Consumers Fingertips



    Top 20 Ways STOP Appreciates You!

    As STOP continues the celebration of our 20th Anniversary, we’ve been thinking about all of the ways we appreciate and are so thankfulfor you.

    You—as an interested reader, a passionate advocate, a supporter of our work and perhaps as someone who’s been personally touched by a foodborne illness—give meaning to our mission and fuel all that we do every day.

    In honor of the last 20 years of STOP’s work, we want to highlight the TOP 20 ways that we appreciate you:

    #1: We appreciate that you’ve made STOP an organization that you care about and want to be a part of. Thank you for making STOP a philanthropic priority in your life.

    #2: We appreciate your advocacy. Our passionate advocates have helped STOP transform the U.S. food safety system and answer the call from thousands of people affected by foodborne illness.

    #3: We appreciate that you’ve invited us into your in-box. Thank you for staying tuned in to our news and engaged in our important work.

    #4: We appreciate your donations. Without your financial support, we simply couldn’t accomplish all that we set out to do every day to make food safer.

    #5: We appreciate your stories. These are at the very heart of our existence and they motivate us to keep working as hard as we can to prevent foodborneillness.

    #6: We appreciate (and love) when you give feedback to us. Whether you share an experience, give us a tip or make a suggestion, you help us make STOP a stronger and more helpful organization for those we serve.

    #7: We appreciate your time. You have a lot of things to do. It means so much that you give some of your valuable time to move our mission forward.

    #8: We appreciate your talent. The unique skills and expertise you offer helps increase our impact exponentially.

    #9: We appreciate your commitment to our cause. With so many great causes out there, we feel privileged to have your loyalty and steadfast support.

    #10: We appreciate your “likes” on Facebook. Thanks for letting us know what you like and please keep those likes coming! If you’re not following us yet, please start today.

    #11: We appreciate your courage. Battling the physical and emotional challenges of a foodborne illness is tough. Thank you for the courage you show as you cope and advocate and stand with us in our work.

    #12: We appreciate your help building awareness. When you spread the word about how to prevent foodborne illness—through media exposure or in many other ways—you’re helping to prevent sickness and save lives. Thank you!

    #13: We appreciate your goodwill. Your friendship and kindness toward our cause is an invaluable asset that we cherish.

    #14: We appreciate your action. Your visits and phone calls and emails to Congress. Your comments on advocacy blogs. Your participation in rallies on the Hill. Thank you for making positive change happen in the world of food safety.

    #15: We appreciate you being there for others. Over the years, we’ve seen so many lives improved and touched by the one-on-one friendships and connections made. Thank you for helping others in times of need and crisis.

    #16: We appreciate your willingness to participate. We know all we have to do is send an email or ring you up and, if you’re able, you’ll say yes to activities and events promoting STOP.

    #17: We appreciate your strength. We’ve seen and experienced first-hand the tremendous power of our constituents to bring understanding, healing, and a change of heart to others.

    #18: We appreciate your expertise. Many of our volunteers bring their professional skill set with them and use it for our benefit.

    #19: We appreciate your ideas. Some of the best things we’ve done are the result of input from our advocates and constituents.

    #20: We appreciate your hope. Your ability to look past the challenges and focus on our goal of a safer food system keeps us inspired every day.


    With much gratitude,

    Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO

    Maria Krysciak, Operations Director

    Vanessa Coffman, Education Manager

    Stanley Rutledge, Program Director


  • March eNews

    Fri, 03/22/2013 - 11:02am -- SRutledge

     eNews March 2013

    A monthly update from STOP

     wonky news

    Get Connected with New Online Message Board (Coming Soon!)

    message board

    At STOP, we know that one of the most empowering and comforting things we can do is help connect you with others who’ve shared similar experiences. So, we’re excited to let you know that we’re making it easier for you to make these meaningful connections with a new online message board.  We’re in the planning stages now, but it will arrive soon at Stay tuned for more details on this easy-to-use resource you can access to share knowledge, give and get support, build friendships and more.



    Sarah the Intern      Welcome STOP's New Intern, Sarah! Experienced, enthusiastic, smart, talented, motivated and passionate: These are just a few words that describe Sarah Stark, our new intern. Sarah’s working on her Masters in Food Safety at the Illinois Institute for Food Safety and Health, bringing a wealth of knowledge, insight and expertise to her role. Sarah’s unique combination of experience with the science of what we do, and her ability to meaningfully contribute on countless daily tasks she’s challenged with, make her an invaluable asset. Having Sarah around is like getting flowers delivered on a cloudy day! With Sarah’s help, we’re making more progress on vital work that helps make our food safer.  


    STOP Advocates Give Powerful Testimony at FSMA Public Meetings

    Dana Boner FDA FSMAAt recent public meetings held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), some of STOP’s most passionate supporters were there to tell their stories and advocate for critical changes needed in our food safety system.

    At the FSMA meeting in Chicago on March 18, Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, applauded STOP advocates for their “powerful” testimony. He emphasized how important their words are and will continue to be as final rules for the FSMA are prepared. STOP extends big thanks to all of the advocates who’ve testified so far and we’re looking forward to seeing more of you next week at the Portland meetings! 


           Advocate Dana Boner from Iowa testifies before the FDA.


     CEO Deirdre Schlunegger Promotes Food Safety at GFSI in Barcelona

    speaker at GFSI

    Promoting food safety around the globe is a priority for STOP and that’s why our participation in the Global Food Safety Initiative Conference on March 6-8 in Barcelona, Spain was so important. The GFSI provides  a highly interactive platform for collaboration between some of the world's leading food safety experts from retailers, manufacturers and food service companies, service providers associated with the food supply chain, international organizations, academia and government. With nearly 1000 delegates from 53 countries present, we were able to meet and interact with food safety experts from around the world. A highlight for Deirdre was when Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for the FDA, recognized the contributions of STOP during his afternoon address on Globalization and Its Effects on Food Safety.


    A special thank you to Walmart Corporation: We greatly appreciate the generosity of Walmart Corporation whose donation of the registration fee made it possible for us to attend this valuable educational and networking opportunity. With Walmart’s help, STOP is doing more to make sure the food we eat is safe.                 


    Chicago RedEye Ad Tells Readers:"Check Our List Before Making Yours"

    red eye advertWhen food gets recalled, our goal at STOP is to make sure people know about the recalls as quickly as possible and take appropriate action to help prevent illness and death from foodborne illness. That’s why we work to build awareness for our regular E-Alerts, which provide information on food recalls and outbreaks. To that end, we recently placed an ad you can see hereand proudly displayed in the photo to the right with Stanley Rutledge, Program Director. It was featured in the February 27, 2013 edition of the Chicago Red Eye reaching 200,000+ readers in the Chicagoland area. We’re excited to report that in the weeks following placement of the ad, we had a noticeable uptick in E-Alert subscribers.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: You can continue the momentum by signing up yourself (if you’re not) and encouraging everyone you know to get our E-Alerts here. We all need to eat! And our aim at STOP is make sure the food we eat is safe. So, please help get our life-saving E-Alerts out to your family, friends, loved ones and colleagues. Thank you in advance. Your efforts could save the life of someone you love.


    Spreading Food Safety News Around Chicagoland

    Kids Expo boothChicagoland Kids Expo: When it comes to foodborne illness, children are a vulnerable group. That’s why STOP makes it a priority to promote food safety to parents and kids every chance we can. On March 9 & 10 in Schaumburg, and March 16 & 17 in Tinley Park, Education Manager Vanessa Coffman met hundreds of moms, dads and kids at the STOP booth. Vanessa gave out helpful food safety information, fun prizes, cooking temperature magnets, t-shirts, coloring books and more. And over 250 people signed up for our E-Alerts!  

    Good Food Stanley





    Good Food Festival: Held in Chicago every year, the Good Food Festival & Conference is the leading food event in the country. On March 15 and 16, STOP’s Program Director, Stanley Rutledge, spent two days at the event sharing a table with Kerri McClimen & the Pew Charitable Trusts helping hundreds of attendees take action against antibiotic resistance, learn the importance of food safety, and become involved in STOP’s mission.


    Would you like to volunteer to help at a future event? Contact us at to let us know. We’d love to hear from you!


    STOP Supporter Speaks Out About Salmonella

    broken eggWhen Melissa Lee’s beautiful baby daughter, Ruby, developed a fever, wouldn’t move and didn’t eat, Melissa knew something was terribly wrong. She’d later learn that little Ruby had become sickened because of salmonella-tainted ground turkey that she’d eaten. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonellaalong with Noroviruscause the most foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2009-2010, the CDC found that Salmonella-contaminated eggs alone accounted for 2,231 illnesses. During that timeframe, more than 1,500 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported involving nearly 29,500 illnesses, 1,200 hospitalizations and 23 deaths.

    In a recent article, you can learn more and hear Melissa talk about what she calls a “terrifying” experience in a TODAY show video.


    Find Photos of Recalled Food Products Easily with FDA Resource

    recallWhen a product that’s regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recalled, you can visit this site to view product photos. This is a handy resource to turn to when you want to easily compare what’s in your kitchen with recalled products.

    Speaking of recalls, are you signed up to receive STOP’s regular E-Alerts that notify you right away of food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks? If you’re not, help keep your food and your family safe by signing up here today.


    Getting More Farm Antibiotics Data: What Will It Take?

    In this article on, Maryn McKenna, author of the book SUPERBUG, takes on the prickly topic of getting more and better data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about antibiotic use in farm animals. with ?

    Recently, the Senate committee charged with oversight of agricultural antibiotic use took up re-authorization of the regulation that delivers data on Ag drugs—without allowing any testimony about the negative, unintended consequences of misusing and overusing those drugs. A coalition of advocacy and medical groups including Pew Charitable Trusts and Keep Antibiotics Working protested the limits of the hearing. They’ve asked the HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee leadership and members to increase the amount of data the FDA collects as well as the amount it publishes, all with the goal of tracking and combating antibiotic resistance.


     Help Us Get to 2000 on Facebook and Twitter!

    like usAre you following us on Facebook and Twitter?

    If you’re not, now is a perfect time to help us reach our goal of 2000 likes on our Facebook page and 2000 followers on Twitter by the time we celebrate our 20th Anniversary in Washington, DC on September 25, 2013.

    And please ask your friends, family, loved ones and colleagues to follow us, too!

    When you sign up, why not share a post telling us why you care about the work at STOP? We’d love to hear from you.

    Social media is quickly becoming the preferred way people want their news. With a growing Facebook and Twitter following, we’ll help more people prevent illness and death from foodborne illness. Thanks so much in advance for your help


    You’re Invited!

    Save the Date for STOP’s 20th Anniversary Reception

    On Wednesday, September 25, 2013 from 5:30-8:30 pm, STOP will be holding a very special 20th Anniversary celebration in Washington, DC. And we hope you’ll be with us!

    Planning is underway for a beautiful and memorable evening that will celebrate all of STOP’s work during the past 20 years and pay tribute to the people who helped make it happen.

    To learn more, and explore corporate/individual sponsorship support opportunities, contact Paula Giovacchini at or 773-267-2751.

    Look for more details to be shared soon on our website and in other communications. We hope to see you there.


    Please email us at with your thoughts about what you like, what you’d like to see in the future, and suggestions for improvement.


     Photo Credits:

    1. Message Board - nuchylee/
    2. Cracked Egg - digitalart/
    3. Like Us - Stuart Miles/
  • Before You Make Your List...

    Mon, 03/18/2013 - 4:49pm -- SRutledge

    In an effort to let more people know about our awesome e-Alerts, the threat of foodborne pathogens and antibiotic-resistant superbugs we've run some ads in local news sources.

    Here's one from February 27th edition of Chicago RedEye:
    Redeye Final ad.jpg

  • Happy 2013 and Happy 20th Anniversary from Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO

    Thu, 01/17/2013 - 4:01pm -- SRutledge

    Happy New Year from all of us at STOP Foodborne Illness!


    I hope you had a wonderful time over the holidays enjoying the beauty of the season and treasured time with family and friends.

    At STOP, we’ve been reflecting on all that we accomplished together in 2012 and we’ve really hit the ground running in 2013—our very special 20th year serving as your voice for safe food.

    On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law ( The tireless work of many of our passionate volunteer advocates together with STOP staff and board members helped this important landmark legislation become reality.

    On January 4, 2013, exactly two years after it became law, the FDA issued two new food safety rules – Preventive Controls for Human Food and Standards for Produce Safety – implementing FSMA and helping transform the U.S. food safety system from a reactive to preventive one. STOP is looking forward to providing our feedback to the FDA on the rules during the public comment period over the next few weeks.

    Other key areas of our work last year concentrated on advocating for the labeling of mechanically tenderized beef, exploring and discussing the new poultry rule, and addressing the life-threatening issue of Antibiotic Resistant (ABR) foodborne illness. We’ve been especially busy educating consumers about ABR health hazards and recruiting volunteer advocates who’ve been personally impacted by an illness that was antibiotic resistant to share their story and speak about the issue.

    Now, looking ahead, we’re doing a lot to make our 20th anniversary year one that’s filled with more positive impact and progress for those we serve. We are very focused on the work that’s needed to meet the goals of our new strategic plan, just completed in the fall of 2012. We’re excited about what the anticipated outcomes will mean for keeping our food safer.

    One common thread that runs through everything we do is this: You are helping to make all of our work possible. Through your advocacy, volunteerism, financial support and participation in special projects, your voices and your actions move us forward. Thank you so much for being a part of our caring community dedicated to preventing foodborne illness and helping those affected.

    Throughout this, our 20th Anniversary year, I look forward to staying in touch. We’ll be planning special activities to celebrate the past 20 years and pave the way for more progress to come. Along the way, please keep in touch, too. You can reach us on our website at or via email at We’d love to hear from you anytime with thoughts, ideas, suggestions and comments.
    Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy 2013,

    Schlunegger Signature H-250px.jpg

    Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO

  • Warning Over Deadly Outbreak of Salmonella in Cantaloupes Criticized

    Wed, 08/22/2012 - 11:25am -- SRutledge

    STOP Spokesperson Nancy Donley quoted below.
    By Indy Star reporter Tony Cook

    A deadly outbreak of salmonella in cantaloupes is stirring controversy about how transparent state and federal health authorities should be as they investigate the source of food-borne illnesses.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Indiana State Department of Health advised consumers Friday to throw out cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana following a salmonella outbreak that killed two people and sickened about 150 people across the country, including 14 people in Indiana.

    As a result of initial investigations by Indiana and Kentucky state health officials, an unidentified farm in southwestern Indiana voluntarily contacted its distributors and withdrew its cantaloupe from the market. The farm also agreed to stop shipping the melon for the rest of the growing season.

    Some food safety advocates are now calling on health officials to release the name of the farm and stores where its cantaloupes were sold.

    "We want every bit of information possible," said Nancy Donley, a spokeswoman with STOP Foodborne Illness, a food safety advocacy group. Her son died in 1993 from E. coli-contaminated ground beef.

    "We are very concerned that the health and welfare of businesses can be put at higher priority than that of the public health and safety," she said.

    State health officials say they are withholding the name of the farm because the recall was not mandated and the
    source of the outbreak remains under investigation. Indiana is the nation's fifth- largest producer of cantaloupe, with more than 2,300 acres harvested in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    "We do not have a definitive source for this outbreak," said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin in a news release last week. "We are working with other impacted states, as well as our federal partners, to locate the source as quickly as possible. We will, of course, be sharing that information as it is learned."

    Amy Reel, a state Health Department spokeswoman, said officials are withholding the farm's name to better protect consumers.

    "We don't want to narrow the public's focus when there could be multiple sources," she said. Those sources could include other growers or distributors, she said.

    Continue reading this article at

    Bloomberg contributed to this report.
    Contact Star reporter Tony Cook at
    317-444-6081 and follow him on
    Twitter @tony__cook.

  • White House Under Fire for Delays on Food Safety Rules

    Wed, 07/18/2012 - 10:05am -- SRutledge

    (STOP Board Member Colette and STOP Member Dana featured below.)

    By Monica Eng

    In 2001, 3-year-old Dana Dziadul ate some cantaloupe at a brunch buffet that sent the toddler to the hospital for four days. It was tainted with salmonella bacteria, part of a national outbreak that caused illness and death in 14 states.
    Determined to help prevent others from suffering the same fate, Dana and her mother, Colette, are joining other food safety advocates in urging the White House to implement provisions of a federal law that President Barack Obama signed in January 2011.
    The Food Safety and Modernization Act ushered in the most sweeping food safety changes in 70 years. But the White House Office of Management and Budget has failed to meet at least three statutory deadlines to review and present rules on new safety standards for high-risk produce and imported foods, among other measures.
    Food poisoning is estimated to strike 1 in 6 Americans each year.
    "As the mother of a child who almost died and continues to suffer from the consequences of the illness," Dziadul said, "it's frustrating that people are still getting sick in this country because of what they eat, and we are not doing what we need to do to cut down on those illnesses through implementation of these laws."
    This morning a broad coalition of food safety advocates, including the Pew Health Group, STOP Foodborne Illness, Center for Science in the Public Interest and Food and Water Watch, plan to call on the Obama White House to respect the deadlines in the name of public health or explain why they are not being met.

    This article continues at:,0,2...
    Back to Top

  • FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act needs funding to protect food supply (Viewpoint)

    Wed, 06/27/2012 - 4:23pm -- SRutledge

    FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act needs funding to protect food supply (Viewpoint)
    Published: Friday, June 22, 2012, 6:00 AM
    Danielle Favorite By Danielle Favorite


    Over the past two months, a food-borne illness outbreak linked to salmonella in raw tuna has sickened more than 300 people nationwide — and caused many consumers to second-guess what’s actually in their spicy tuna rolls.

    A recent investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found filthy conditions in the facility in India that processed the tuna. Perhaps the outbreak should have come as no surprise; a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that food-borne illnesses linked to imported foods are increasing. Sixteen years ago, I learned how real this threat truly is.

    As is the case for many primary-school children, my daughter’s celebration of Valentine’s Day was full of paper cards and sweet treats, including a festive slice of strawberry shortcake. When Hallie, then 8, became ill days later — vomiting and crying uncontrollably from pain — we arrived at the hospital to see the familiar faces of her classmates and teachers who had come in with similar symptoms.
    dopp-kathyjpg-1512c98607b7ad13.jpgSTOP member Kathy Dopp

    A week later, Hallie was released from the hospital but continued to experience the debilitating effects of a Hepatitis A infection. Her weakened immune system caused her to miss school, give up soccer and dance, and become ostracized by her friends, whose parents kept their children away from her out of fear that she would spread the disease. In the first three years after the incident, Hallie had nine strep and multiple bronchial infections.

    We would later learn that the illness that sickened 260 people in our small Michigan town was from frozen strawberries imported from Mexico that were contaminated with Hepatitis A.

    Unfortunately, Hallie’s experience is not unique. The CDC estimates that each year, one in six Americans — or 48 million people — suffer from a food-borne illness, resulting in more than 120,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Without strong safety standards, the number of people who are sickened by contaminated food is likely to increase.

    About two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans is imported, and as our global food market continues to expand, so do the dangers. Even more unsettling is the fact that, according to the CDC, the imported food items linked to food-borne illnesses are often unknown or not reported.

    In an effort to combat this public health risk, President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act into law in January 2011. The legislation is the first major update to food safety oversight in more than 70 years. Under the law, every food manufacturer must frequently look for food safety threats, adopt practices to avoid dangers in food and keep records of those steps that can be reviewed by government inspectors.

    Additionally, overseas food suppliers must meet U.S safety standards, and the FDA will be inspecting food manufacturing facilities — especially those abroad — more than ever.

    But to do all this work, the FDA must have sufficient resources. The American public overwhelmingly supports strong food safety laws and adequate funding for this core function of government. A nationwide poll conducted last year by the Pew Health Group found that 66 percent of likely voters support additional funding for the FDA to carry out new responsibilities related to food safety and 74 percent believe it is worth a 1-to-3 percent increase in the cost of food to pay for additional protections under the landmark food safety law.

    As we enter the summer season — the peak for food-borne illness outbreaks — our families remain at risk from the dangerous and, at times, deadly impacts of contaminated food. With the right safeguards in place, my daughter’s illness could have been prevented.

    Kathy Dopp lives in Marshall. Her daughter contracted Hepatitis A as a child, when she ate contaminated strawberries at a school party.
    For more Kalamazoo Gazette opinion pieces and letters visit

    © 2012 All rights reserved.

  • Survey Shines Spotlight on Perceptions About Food Safety

    Wed, 06/13/2012 - 1:37pm -- SRutledge

    by Cookson Beecher | Jun 11, 2012

    What you know about food safety and the way you handle and prepare food helps determine how safe you are -- or how at risk you are -- from coming down with a foodborne illness.

    With that in mind, the International Food Information Council Foundation has been tracking food-safety practices that different sectors of the U.S. population say they are following -- or not following -- since 2006.

    Bottom line: It's all about the health of U.S. consumers.

    "Because only safe food can be nutritious food, this research is an important part of the applied research needed to ensure a wholesome food supply for the United States," says the conclusion of an article about the foundation's 5-year retrospective, Food and Health Survey, 2006-2010, which appears in the June issue of peer-reviewed Food Protection Trends.

    The comprehensive national study was designed to gain insights from Americans on important food-safety, nutrition, and health-related topics. The goal is to provide information that food-safety educators can use to help people stay safe from foodborne illnesses such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contaminated food causes 48 million illnesses (1 in 6 people), 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year. In addition, the United States documents approximately 1,000 foodborne disease outbreaks each year.

    The outbreaks represent an amazing variety of foods. For example, in the period between 2006 and 2010, CDC documented 31 multi-state food outbreaks, among them high-profile outbreaks involving fresh spinach, tomatoes, peanut butter, frozen pot pies, cantaloupes, rice/wheat cereals, pistachios, alfalfa sprouts, beef, shredded lettuce, cheese and shell eggs.

    Surprises in store

    There are some surprises in store in this survey, which was conducted by market research firm Cogent Research. As a starter, although the participants showed increasing confidence overall in the safety of the U.S. food supply from 2008 through 2010, they also reported a decline in following key food-safety practices.

    Those practices include hand washing, washing cutting boards, separating raw meat and poultry from ready-to-eat food products, cooking to required temperatures, properly storing left overs and following microwave cooking instructions.

    Marianne Smith-Edge, an author of the article and senior vice president of Nutrition & Food Safety at the IFIC Foundation, told Food Safety News that there does seem to be somewhat of a disconnect there.

    "Perhaps because of the rising confidence level, people might not be so mindful of following food-safety practices," she said.

    That relationship between confidence in the U.S. food supply and a decline in reported food-safety practices corresponds with the Health Belief Model, a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviors. According to this model, individuals need an incentive to make changes in what they do. For example, they'll likely take actions to improve their health when they believe they could avoid suffering from a negative health condition when they follow recommended actions.

    In other words, the audience needs to be awake and listening. Providing general food-safety education doesn't provide nearly the incentive to follow recommended actions as a highly publicized foodborne illness outbreak or a personal experience with a foodborne illness.

    Smith-Edge also said that the group's latest look at consumers and food safety in 2012 found that consumer confidence in the safety of the nation's food supply appears to be increasing--up from the historical average of about 50 percent to more than 75 percent.

    "Interestingly, while past years' surveys indicate a decline in food-safety practices, such as using a food thermometer or even washing one's hands before preparing food, Americans perceive themselves as doing the best job when it comes to ensuring the safety of their food," she said.

    Smith-Edge said this is consistent with information indicating that more than 60 percent of Americans agree that their chances of getting foodborne illness or food poisoning is extremely low.

    For Nancy Donley, president of STOP Foodborne Illness, this strong consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply is part of the problem.

    "There's nothing in life that's 100 percent safe, and that includes food," she told Food Safety News. "That's why you need to pay attention and follow good food-safety practices."

    Pointing to the new food safety act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011, Donley said the law in itself most likely boosts consumer confidence in the U.S. food supply.

    "But what many people don't know is that even with this new massive food safety law, nothing's happening because there's no funding for it," she said, adding that proposed food-safety rules are trapped in a bureaucratic tangle.

    One of her frustrations is that people think getting a foodborne illness won't happen to them or anyone they know.

    "Consumers just assume that the food they're buying is safe," she said.

    And even though there's a lot more food-safety information out there for consumers since the tragic Jack in the Box E. coli poisonings, which in 1992-93 sickened hundreds and killed four children, Donley said there's a key element missing in the information being provided to consumers.

    "People need to understand why they need to follow food-safety practices," she said. "The food industry and government don't want to alarm consumers by pointing out the possible consequences of not following them. But because of this, consumers are getting only half of the message."

    Who's responsible?

    Another "disconnect" in the foundation's survey results is that 94 percent of the survey respondents said that the person preparing the food does the best job of ensuring that the food is safe to eat.

    "Americans are saying they trust themselves," said Smith-Edge. "But we know that it's not always the case that the people who prepare the food are always using best food-safety practices. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says that the majority of foodborne illnesses occur at home. But home preparation and what happens in individual homes doesn't get the headlines."

    That follows along with an observation from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: "If unsafe food gets into our grocery stores, it makes headlines. And rightly so. But unsafe food, which could lead to foodborne illness, can also happen from what we do -- or don't do -- in our own kitchens."

    But Donley, whose 6-year-old son Alex died of E. coli in 1993 after eating a hamburger served during a backyard cookout, rails against this attitude, saying that the food industry and the government can't be left off the hook -- that they need to be held accountable for practices and policies that ensure that the food consumers are buying and bringing home is safe.

    In another look at the responsibility for food safety, participants in the foundation's surveys over the past 5 years had varying views on which "stakeholder" is responsible for making sure food is safe, with a greater percentage assigning responsibility to government and food manufacturers than to farmers, retailers, and consumers.

    Younger respondents were more likely than older respondents, and white respondents were more likely than respondents of other racial groups, to assign responsibility to retailers. More educated respondents and white respondents were more likely to assign responsibility to farmers, consumers and food manufacturers -- in that order -- than were less educated groups and other racial groups.

    No differences were seen in assignment of responsibility by gender or by region.

    Men and women -- and others

    When looking at survey responses to questions about individual food-safety practices, females often trended toward reporting having the best food-safety behaviors.

    Smith-Edge said that "it's good news that women 'get it,'" because they're usually the primary shoppers and preparers of food.

    She also said that the survey reveals that men, more than women and other groups represented in the survey, often don't pay attention to food safety -- regardless of education. For example, men who have not attended college -- or men who have attended graduate/professional school -- were more likely to report following none of the recommended food safety practices.

    But because men often grill food and sometimes take charge of cooking large roasts, for example, Smith-Edge said it's important to get the message across that "it's not macho to ignore food safety guidelines."

    The survey also found that white, more highly educated respondents, and respondents from households that included individuals who were particularly more vulnerable to foodborne illness -- young children, people over 50, and those with immune-related diseases -- were more likely to report following better food-safety practices.

    But that does not mean they had an exemplary track record. For example, respondents from households that included children aged six and under were less likely than respondents from other vulnerable households to report following recommended food safety practices.

    When looking specifically at this group, the survey suggests that educating parents and caregivers of young children about how susceptible young children are to foodborne illnesses and how severe the illnesses can be would likely boost their incentive to follow recommended food-safety practices.

    Oh, those thermometers...

    It seems that just about everyone knows that a thermometer can tell you if the food you're cooking has reached the temperature that will make it safe to eat. Yet in the case of vulnerable households, fewer than 30 percent reported using a food thermometer to verify that the correct temperature has been reached. And only 27 percent of respondents overall reported using a food thermometer regularly to check doneness of meat and poultry cooked using conventional methods.

    "The use of food thermometers is not 'run of the mill,'" said Smith-Edge.

    Microwaves can be tricky

    A 2007 multistate outbreak of Salmonella associated with microwaving not-ready-to-eat frozen pot pies put the spotlight on the need for people to understand more about the proper use of microwaves when cooking foods that haven't already been fully cooked.

    For example, not everyone knows the wattage of their microwave oven, and it's the wattage that determines how long something needs to be cooked. And not everyone knows the different "standing times" microwaved foods need for enough heat to penetrate the food to reach proper temperatures throughout the microwaved products.

    And while 72 percent of respondents to the survey reported following all microwave cooking instructions on product labels, fewer respondents reported they were actually doing what was required to cook not-ready-to-eat foods safely in a microwave oven.

    The new USDA "Cook It Safe" campaign provides information on microwave cooking, including how to figure out the wattage of a microwave oven.

    Consumer concerns and labels

    For the most part, respondents put foodborne illnesses from bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella at the top of their list of concerns. Chemicals in the food came in next, followed by imported foods and food allergens.

    Respondents' top priority when choosing foods was checking the expiration dates, followed by checking the ingredients, organic labeling, country of origin labeling and allergen labeling.

    Younger, female, more highly educated, Hispanic or "other" racial groups, and respondents living in the West were more likely than other groups to look for organic labeling.


    When it comes to information about food safety, respondents said the most trusted sources were government agencies/officials, health professionals, health associations, and television news programs.

    They also said they were likely to be prompted to make changes to their food-safety practices based on the advice of physicians and mainstream media than on other sources. The least trusted sources of food-safety information were blogs or social networking sites.

    Now what?

    Smith-Edge said that the survey points out that food-safety messages need to be consistent, targeted to specific groups, and action-based.

    "We have to be mindful that one message doesn't fit all," she said.

    She also believes that food safety is "a shared responsibility across all lines."

    She described the survey as "a barometer" about people's perceptions that food-safety educators and communicators can use to be effective..

    "It really comes down to four basics: clean, separate, cook and chill," she said. "That's the first line of defense to prevent foodborne illnesses."

    © Food Safety News

  • USDA to Test for More Strains of E. coli

    Tue, 06/05/2012 - 12:41pm -- SRutledge

    By Dina ElBoghdady

    STOP member Dana Boner quoted below
    On her 14th birthday, Kayla Boner got her driver's permit and then went home complaining of stomach-bug symptoms that landed her in the hospital two days later.

    Antibiotics didn't work. Her kidneys failed. She had a seizure and went on a ventilator. Soon after, her brain activity ceased. Just 11 days after her symptoms surfaced, Kayla's distraught parents decided not to keep her on life support.

    The culprit: a lesser-known strain of E. coli.
    "We were told it was E. coli O111," said Dana Boner, Kayla's mother. "Where did it come from? What could it have been? All these years, and we still don't know."

    Most of the outbreaks that have riveted the public for nearly two decades involved one strain of E. coli, but the government will soon outlaw another six strains in the same family of bacteria, including the one that killed Kayla in 2007.

    In June, the Agriculture Department will begin testing raw ground beef for the "Big Six" at meat plants, four years after scientists and government experts warned of the dangers these germs pose to the food supply. Since then, the Big Six have been repeatedly tied to multistate outbreaks and illnesses.

    Most of those illnesses were not linked to beef but to sprouts or lettuce or no source at all. The meat industry argues that it is being unfairly targeted. Only once before, with the notorious E. coli O157:H7, have regulators banned a pathogen from fresh meat.

    This article continues at:

  • Food-Safety Rules in Limbo at Office of Management and Budget

    Fri, 05/04/2012 - 10:55am -- SRutledge
    By Dina ElBoghdady, Published: May 2

    More than a year after President Obama signed a landmark food-safety bill, the key provisions are hung up at a unit of the White House that is in charge of reviewing proposed policy changes.

    The delay at the Office of Management and Budget baffles consumer advocates and industry groups, which joined forces to lobby for passage of the legislation and press for its funding. The united front by this unusual alliance — and the president’s enthusiastic endorsement of the legislation in the past — makes the hold-up especially puzzling.

    In recent letters to the administration, nearly half a dozen groups expressed frustration with the OMB.

    “There’s no explanation for the hold-up,” said Erik Olson, director of food programs at the Pew Health Group, which co-wrote one of the letters with the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Until this new package of safeguards is put into place, all the promise of the new food-safety law will not be met.”

    OMB officials say the duration of this review is not unusual given the complexity of the regulations. “The administration is working as expeditiously as possible to implement this legislation we fought so hard for,” said Moira Mack, an OMB spokeswoman.

    Obama signed the legislation in January 2011 after a string of food-borne outbreaks shook consumer confidence in the nation’s food supply. On many occasions, he has highlighted food safety as a top priority for his administration, which came in just as an deadly outbreak erupted involving salmonella-contaminated peanuts and peanut butter.

    In March 2009, Obama declared that “food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your president but as a parent,” and set up an inter-agency group to advise him on how to revamp food-safety regulations that had not been updated since 1938. The group’s key recommendations were rolled into the new law.

    That law empowers the Food and Drug Administration to prevent food-borne illnesses instead of simply reacting to them. Its provisions require produce farmers, food-processing facilities and animal-food plants to adopt strategies that would help them spot and combat food-safety hazards. It also mandates that food imported into this country meet the same safety standards as food produced domestically.

    To put these provisions in place, the OMB must approve draft rules, which are then submitted to the public for comment before being finalized. An executive order gives the OMB 90 days to review proposed regulations. The rule on imports was supposed to be finalized by Jan. 4 and the produce proposal was to be submitted for public comment by then. The others are supposed to be finalized by July 4.

    It is possible for the OMB to extend its reviews and that often happens. The food-safety rules have remained at the office since late last year.

    “People have been working hard to get these rules out for public comment as soon as possible,” said Mike Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “These are complex, ground-breaking rules and care is needed.”

    In the meantime, the industry is in limbo and consumers are at risk, some groups said.

    “The lengthy congressional debate over food safety combined with draft regulations that have missed the statutory deadlines create uncertainty and paralysis,” Bryan Silbermann, chief executive of the Produce Marketing Association, wrote in a letter to Obama last month. “It is much more difficult for companies to invest in additional food safety safeguards without knowing what the FDA rules will be.”

    Some experts who are tracking the issue say that the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs — run by legal scholar Cass Sunstein — has raised questions about the FDA’s analysis of the provisions’ costs and benefits.

    Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, said OIRA routinely second-guesses regulators and delays regulation. But usually the delays come at the behest of industry, she said.

    With the food-safety rules, one explanation could be that the proposals have run into private objections from a company or other party that would be affected by them, Steinzor said. But FDA officials said they’ve held hundreds of meetings with affected parties and see no sign of such resistance.

    Another possible explanation, Steinzor said, is OIRA’s own caution. “The economists at OIRA, who have their own ideas, may be objecting,” she said. “They are a breed unto themselves. They’re very hostile to the idea of regulation and they always have been, no matter which administration.”

    © The Washington Post Company

    Find the original article here: