News from STOP Foodborne Illness

Looking Back on 2015: You and Your Support Helped Prevent Foodborne Illness and Save Lives

A Personal Note from Deirdre Schlunegger, STOP Foodborne Illness CEO

It’s hard to believe, but another busy and bustling year here at STOP Foodborne Illness is coming to a close soon. As they do every year, each staff member gave their all in 2015, and for that I am very grateful.  I am also so thankful for all of our volunteers and followers – you are critical to the successful implementation of our mission.

As I reflect on our accomplishments in 2015, one thing stands out more than anything else:

Together, with your support, we touched the lives of THOUSANDS of people who needed to hear our message, feel our compassion, use our resources, read our stories, and take comfort in knowing they aren’t alone.

Now, let me share a few poignant vignettes that’ll help you understand just how important your involvement in our mission has been this past year.

First, I want to tell you about a man I met in Denver, Colorado, in August. His first words to me were, “Your e-Alerts saved my dog’s life.” An Alert he received from STOP Foodborne Illness made him aware of a recalled treat (that was in his pantry) before giving one to his cherished pet. He showed me a photo of his healthy canine.  We are very moved that our work helped save his dog’s life.

At a recent national conference, when a presenter from CDC was leaving, she turned to me and said, “you have made a difference at STOP Foodborne Illness”, which I interpret to mean, STOP Foodborne Illness makes a difference in people’s lives.

A woman who lost her son to foodborne illness said to a group, “STOP Foodborne Illness saved my life”.  She said that we provided space for her grief, a space for advocacy, and for sharing her story. This is the most important reason for our existence.

Along with these one-on-one visits, STOP Foodborne Illness had a strong presence at many key food safety conferences, stakeholder meetings, and advisory panels in 2015. Darin Detwiler, Senior Policy Coordinator, took the lead on attending most of these, which had him globe-trotting everywhere from Dubai, and Spain, to Georgia, Kansas, and Washington, DC. Through these events, Darin (and STOP Foodborne Illness) passionately shared our mission and urged people to take action on pressing food safety issues with those in industry, academia, media, and the general public who walked away better armed in the collective battle against foodborne illness.

And there’s so much more!

Here’s a quick glimpse into the many other accomplishments you helped achieve in 2015:

  • SEEDS OF HOPE BOOK: Stanley Rutledge, Community Coordinator, has been leading this special project that’ll help survivors, loved ones, and all in the food safety community understand more about the emotional and physical pain associated with foodborne illness. For survivors, it’ll be an especially meaningful resource for gaining comfort from people who’ve walked in their shoes. Look for Seeds of Hope: Encouraging Words from Individuals and Families Impacted by Foodborne Illness in mid-2016.
  • e-ALERT SUBSCRIBER GROWTH: Two hundred more people now get our e-Alerts – a total of 18,990 – which provide life-saving information on food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks.
  • eNEWS CONNECTS + INFORMS: Every month, we stay connected to 13,000 people who receive our eNews. This year we featured dozens of helpful articles on how to keep your food safe, advocacy initiatives, what’s happening at STOP Foodborne Illness, and ways to support our work. Plus, stories like those of Sherri Profitt, a grandmother working to change Oregon laws so other families can avoid the pain her family has gone through, and Dan Sutton, a father whose fierce commitment to food safety is as much about his family as it is about his leadership role with the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement were shared and continue to be big hits with our readers.
  • WEBSITE REDESIGN: was re-launched early in the year with improved design, layout, and navigation. Increased traffic, enhanced user experiences, and heightened media interest have been exciting outcomes of launching our new site.
  • WEBSITE HITS: Over 63,100 unique visitors so far this year have clicked on That’s 20,000 more than last year at this time! Quality Assurance Managers, food safety professionals, ServSafe Instructors, people working from farm to fork, students doing research, and moms and dads across the country come to our site to find answers to their food safety questions and resources to help them prevent foodborne illness.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA ACTION: Since the start of this year, we’ve been liked by a whopping 8,375 new followers on Facebook. We’ve tweeted 500 times and been re-tweeted 460 times. That’s a lot more people reading and sharing our messages and putting our food safety tips into practice in their daily lives.
  • INTRODUCTORY VIDEO REQUESTS: Ten food-related companies including South Carolina Department of Health and Tyson Foods are now using our Introductory Video in training sessions for managers, distributors, and front-line food handlers. We estimate 1,000+ people each year will view this video. Some companies show it to every new hire while others use it for special training with food safety leaders and managers.
  • MEDIA EXPOSURE: This has been a banner year for STOP Foodborne Illness “in the news.” I’ve been a contributing blogger to Food Safety Tech’s online magazine since May. Darin was featured in numerous high-profile publications including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Food Safety News, and many others. All in all, we were featured or quoted as an expert in over 50 blogs and articles. Click here to see our ever-expanding Media Room.
  • LEGACY TRIBUTE AWARD TO NANCY DONLEY: At the Food Safety Consortium Conference in Chicago in November, we enjoyed meeting many new friends while also honoring Nancy Donley. Nancy has worked with us during the past 20 years in roles that include Executive Director, Advocacy Volunteer, and Board Member. Nancy received our Legacy Tribute Award in loving memory of her son, Alex, a tender-hearted, six-year-old boy who died tragically from a foodborne illness right after graduating kindergarten.
  • We gave the Industry Advocate Award to Frank Yiannas for embracing, teaching and promoting the concept of a robust Food Safety Culture. Frank shares our passion and we were thrilled to present him with this well deserved award.  He is one of our heroes to be sure.


In closing, I’m extending my biggest and warmest THANK YOU to you. As a cherished friend, your involvement and support keeps accomplishments like those we’ve achieved in 2015 going strong.

I leave you with a poem from our friend and supporter, Milton Ploghoft. I spent time with Milton and his son in Ohio earlier this year. Milton lost his beloved wife, Zella, to foodborne illness and, during the immediate aftermath of his pain and devastation, he wrote the words I share below. To me, this perfectly captures why it’s so important that you and I and all of our friends stand together in the fight against foodborne disease.


You Are

Child of
Esses you are.
Softness of sand, warmth of the sun,
Turbulence of the tossing seas.

You are.

Sixty-five years of life together
Times of sun and stormy weather
Young souls come with newborn joy
Loved ones leave as time goes by

23,700 days of work and laughter
The destination a quiet hereafter

For the partner left it is disaster!


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