Arianna Huffington announced that she had chosen 100 people in a variety of fields to honor as the Huffington Post’s 2010 Game Changers yesterday.  Food safety advocate Barbara Kowalcyk, founder and director of food safety for the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI), was honored alongside 9 others in the Huffington Post Food category “for their willingness to look at things and take the risk of saying, ‘I think I have a better way.'”

barb-kowalcyk1.jpgKowalcyk, who was featured in the 2009 documentary Food, Inc., became a food safety advocate after losing her 2-year-old son, Kevin, to an E. coli infection in 2001.  Since that time she has continued to fight for a safer food supply through her work at CFI and through her service as a member of the National Academies of Science (NAS) Standing Committee on the Use of Public Health Data in FSIS Food Safety Programs.  She served as one of the authors of the recent NAS report, Enhancing Food Safety: the Role of the Food and Drug Administration.

“Thank you to Arianna Huffington and The Huffington Post for this honor and for the recognition that when it comes to food safety, the status quo of recalls, illnesses and deaths is not acceptable,” said Kowalcyk in a statement. 

Kowalcyk, who was recently awarded the Lennon Ono Grant For Peace, goes up against First Lady Michelle Obama and the 8 other honorees in the Food category in a competition to become the “Ultimate Food Game Changer.”

Mrs. Obama was honored in the Food category for her efforts through the Let’s Move! campaign, which aims to curb the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.  Huffington says, “The First Lady’s commitment to the health of our children is as well-rounded as it is realistic, embracing both smarter eating and physical exercise. Practicing what she preaches, Obama demonstrated the joys of locally-grown produce by planting the first organic garden on White House grounds. And, knowing that having the message be heard is as critical as the message itself, the First Lady even made an appearance as a judge on ‘Iron Chef America.'”

Los Angeles street food vendor Roy Choi, who won Food and Wine magazine’s New Chef of the Year award, and Michel Nischan, an award-winning chef and cookbook writer who is President and CEO of Wholesome Wave Foundation, which has a mission of increasing access to affordable local food, are also up for the Ultimate Food Game Changer award.

Huffington calls Choi the “unofficial godfather of the food truck movement.”  Choi recently opened a wheel-less restaurant, Chego, which “churns out cheap and delicious rice bowls and intends to overturn the public perception of fast food.”

She commends Nischan for “showing busy Americans on a budget that sustainable food isn’t just for the rich.”  The Wholesome Wave Foundation has worked with community organizations and farmers markets to open up the availability for families to pay for local, sustainable food with food stamps.  

Other nominees are Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery; Anthony Bourdain, host of the “No Reservations” TV show; New York chef Marcus Samuelsson; novelist, screenwriter, and director Nora Ephron; chef and host of “Top Chef,” Tom Colicchio; and Martha Stewart.

Vote for your favorite Food Game Changer on the Huffington Post Food page.