STOP Foodborne Illness names 2021-2022 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellow

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At the IAFP 2021 conference in Phoenix, AZ, the national nonprofit public health organization STOP Foodborne Illness named Shrinidhi “Nidhi” Joshi its 2021-2022 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellow.

Joshi was selected by a committee of professionals and educators from STOP and from the Michigan State University Online Food Safety Program.

applicable stainless-steel project
Shrinidhi “Nidhi” Joshi, 2021-2022 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellow

“Year after year, the quality of candidates applying for the Theno Fellowship is remarkable,” said CEO of STOP, Mitzi Baum. “Among a field of incredibly qualified candidates, Nidhi stood out. Her commitment to research in the food safety field is impressive and her dedication to helping people through her works aligns with our mission at STOP. We’re so pleased to have her join us and contribute to our work.”

The Theno Food Safety Fellowship is an opportunity for a young food scientist to work with STOP professionals and learn from members of the extended STOP community about the real-world health consequences of failures in food safety.

The fellowship includes housing, pay and benefits, and requires that the fellow work full time for STOP and complete a 12-credit Online Food Safety Certificate program with Michigan State University.

“The study of infectious diseases and how I can contribute to preventing them has been an academic and professional passion,” said Joshi. “STOP has so many remarkable initiatives that truly help educate people about foodborne illnesses. I really feel that the work they do is important, it makes a difference. I’m proud to be part of their team.”

Joshi is a graduate of Texas Tech University and graduated with Honors and Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. degree in microbiology and a minor in chemistry. During her college career, she conducted research on a food safety probiotics project and on a food industry applicable stainless-steel project to identify the attachment of pathogenic bacteria. She was the recipient of multiple research endowments during her years at Texas Tech.

About David Theno
Theno was the scientist hired as senior vice president and chief food safety officer for Jack-in-the-Box in 1993 as the fast-food chain was reeling from a massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7.

food safety decisionFour children died in the 1992-93 outbreak, which saw more than 600 victims confirmed infected with E. coli O157:H7 from undercooked hamburgers. Most of the victims were young children. Many of them were left with serious, lifelong complications requiring ongoing medical treatment.

One of the victims was 9-year-old Lauren Beth Rudolph. She died in her mother’s arms Dec. 28, 1992. Theno carried a photo of Lauren Beth in his wallet from 1993 until he died in 2017. A rogue wave hit and killed him while he was swimming with his grandson in Hawaii.

Lauren Beth
Lauren Beth Rudolph Theno rarely missed an opportunity to share Lauren’s story and her photo with people in the food industry. He said every time he needed to make a food safety decision — who to pick as a supplier, what food safety specifications should be, etc. — he took out Lauren’s picture and asked: “What would Lauren want me to do?”

Shortly after hiring Theno in 1993, top management at the fast-food chain made the decision to give him complete authority over food safety. He developed and implemented a comprehensive Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan. He 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.

About STOP Foodborne Illness

STOP Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by advocating for sound public policies, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness.

Former Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner of Foods and current board member for STOP, Mike Taylor, said the organization is helping to create a culture of food safety that has been the driver of “everything that’s happened since [1993] … It’s absolutely clear that (STOP is the) catalyst, and that change of mindset has had a transformative effect on the food system in this country.”

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