Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles leading up to the 20th annual Food Safety Summit. The event, from May 7-10 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center in suburban Chicago, includes certification courses; a trade show with exhibitors from industry, academia and government; an extensive list of seminars and panel discussions; and a Town Hall meeting with top officials from the FDA, USDA and CDC. Visit www.foodsafetysummit.com for more details and to registe


It’s a time of transformation for Stop Foodborne Illness, with new board members, including people very familiar to the industry. Stop has a 25-year history of mobilizing people personally affected by foodborne illness to push for prevention.  The organization is seeking new opportunities and models for collaboration based on broad alignment among government, industry and consumers on the goal of prevention and the importance of comprehensively implementing recognized best practices and building strong food safety cultures.    

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor, board co-chair for Stop and former Deputy Commissioner for the FDA, will present on the panel and recount his personal experience meeting with Nancy Donley and Mary Heersink at the beginning of his tenure at FSIS in 1994 and the impact their message had on making food safety a personal issue for him and motivating meat safety reforms. 

Taylor will recount Stop’s more recent experience and impact working with food industry organizations in their training programs and as part of the consumer-industry coalition that enacted FSMA to deliver the powerful message of why food safety is so important to consumers, citing as examples Lauren Bush and Rylee Gustafson, two victims of the 2006 spinach outbreak who have had the courage and commitment to tell their stories in the interest of preventing others from having the same experience.  

Gillian Kelleher, Stop board member and vice president for Food Safety & Quality Assurance for Wegmans Food Markets, will share the experience of her company in working with Stop to help employees understand the impact of Listeria and other pathogens on consumers and their families. 

Lauren Bush, now co-chair of the Stop board says, “Food safety is a journey, with great progress having been made but a long way to go to fully implement best practices across our vast and complex food system.  Many are engaged and leading the way, including individual companies, GFSI, PFSE, consumer groups and government, all of whom need to come together.  Stop sees the opportunity for a new alliance whose goal is to stop foodborne illness through new forms of collaboration to promote best practices and strong food safety cultures.”

Nancy Donley, who lost her son Alex to E. coli O157:H7 in 1993, will share her perspective on how food safety has changed since then. Dan Sutton, a grower and the vice-chair of the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, will share LGMA’s experience working with Stop. 

Craig Wilson of Costco, a new Stop board member, will address how Stop is seeking new mechanisms for collaborating with the food industry on implementation of best practices and strong food safety cultures. And, Steve Hermansky, Chief Food Safety and Quality Officer for Conagra Foods, will explain why his company is supporting Stop and how deep understanding of the “why” of food safety by every employee can help companies strengthen their motivation and performance without the shock of a serious bad event.

This session is set for 2:45 p.m. May 10 during The Food Safety Summit. 

About the author: Gillian Kelleher, vice president for Food Safety & Quality Assurance for Wegmans Food Markets, is one of three new members selected in 2017 to serve on the board of Stop Foodborne Illness. Also joining the board in 2017 were Michael Taylor and Adrian Esparza. Kelleher is also a member of the Food Safety Summit Educational Advisory Board.

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