Stop Foodborne Illness is now accepting applications for the Dave Theno Fellowship for Food Safety.

“Thanks to the generous outpouring from Dave’s family, friends and colleagues, the staff and board of Stop Foodborne Illness have created the Dave Theno Fellowship for Food Safety,” according to a news release from the non-profit organization.

A man of action, Theno worked tirelessly to create a culture of food safety. For him it was about family.

From 1993 until his death in June this year, Theno kept a photograph of  Lauren Beth Rudolph in his wallet. She lost her life to E. coli O157:H7 during the Jack in the Box outbreak.

Lauren Beth Rudolph

Meeting Lauren Beth’s mother, one of the founders of Stop Foodborne Illness, had a profound influence on Theno. He frequently said he carried Lauren Beth’s photo “to remind him of the devastation wrought by foodborne pathogens.”

“Through the years, we have dedicated our mission to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by advocating for sound public policy, building public awareness, and by assisting those impacted by foodborne illness,” according to the news release.

Along with the consumers, Stop Foodborne Illness works with the food industry, government, and other stakeholders to establish a more powerful food safety culture.

In its beginning stage, the Dave Theno Fellowship for Food Safety is a full fellowship program. Developed with goals, milestones and expected outcomes, the fellowship will run from September 2018 through August 2019, in its first year.

“Working with individuals and families impacted by foodborne illness, as well as with industry partners, and legal representatives, the Fellow will be exposed to the realities and outcomes of foodborne disease,” according to the news release.

Applicants for the fellowship must have graduated from a food safety program. The inaugural fellow is scheduled to be announced by Stop Foodborne Illness in June 2018.

About Dave Theno
Theno, 66, was hit and killed by a large wave June 19, 2017, while swimming with his grandson near Hulopoʻe Beach, fronting Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort Lānaʻi.

At the time of his death, Theno was CEO of Gray Dog Partners Inc., based on Del Mar, CA. He been CEO for the food safety consulting business since 2009.

Theno was hired as senior vice president and chief food safety officer for Jack-in-the-Box in 1993, as the San Diego fast food chain was reeling from a massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. Four deaths, including Lauren Beth’s, and hundreds of illnesses were blamed on the burger chain that some said would not survive.

Top management made an early decision to give Theno complete authority over food safety. He implemented a comprehensive Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan and then required a finished product testing protocol, test and hold, that initially irked others in the meat industry before it was almost universally adopted.

Theno remained with Jack in the Box for almost 16 years. When he left for Gray Dog, he took on being chief global food safety and quality officer for Milford, CT-based Subway restaurant chain. Before he joined Jack-in-the- Box, his Theno & Associates Inc. did food safety and quality management consulting for such companies as Foster Farms, Kellogg’s, Armour Food Co. and Peter Eckrich & Sons Inc.

Theno earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and science journalism from Iowa State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in food microbiology and animal sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Theno’s leadership in responding to the 1993 outbreak and challenge of E. coli O157:H7 has been recognized by numerous scientific and industry organizations.

Theno was also actively involved in numerous food industry and scientific organizations, most recently receiving lifetime achievement award at the Food Safety Summit as part of the annual NSF Food Safety Innovation awards.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)