Food Safety Heroes
Recently three very special people were honored as Food Safety Heroes by STOP Foodborne Illness – a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death from foodborne illness. Recipients included two young women: Rylee Gustafson (age 17) and Dana Dziadul (age 16), whose lives have been forever changed by foodborne illness. The third recipient was U.S. FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor who is working to prevent others from the tragic consequences of foodborne illness.
The LGMA recognizes the inspiring work done by STOP Foodborne Illness and we share their commitment to preventing foodborne illness. We couldn’t agree more with STOP’s decision to honor these three individuals. In fact, the LGMA has close working relationships with two of the three honorees.
In December, the LGMA launched a series of training sessions for workers throughout the leafy greens community as part of our LGMA Tech program. The objective of this program is to train those who directly handle leafy greens to correctly follow the LGMA’s required food safety practices. Rylee appears in a very important video that is part this program. Her role is to tell the story of what can happen when something goes wrong in a leafy greens field. She is compelling, to say the least, and those who participate in these trainings gain a renewed focus on why the food safety practices they’re being asked to follow are so important. We very much appreciate Rylee for telling the tragic story of her illness once again for our video. It will save lives. And for that, she is indeed a hero.
The job of implementing sweeping new food safety laws under the Food Safety Modernization Act is no small task. Michael Taylor’s role in this effort is not just a job, but represents a personal commitment to protecting public health. The LGMA has had the pleasure of working with Mike for many years. He’s been in California leafy greens fields numerous times to learn about our program and how we can assist his agency in implementing new food safety rules for leafy greens farms. He has always been supportive and appreciative of the LGMA program. In December, we asked him to help us launch our new LGMA Tech training program and the video noted above, which he graciously agreed to. As part of his acceptance speech during STOP’s Food Safety Heroes event, he mentioned the LGMA training program as an example of how the food industry is, in fact, working to create a culture of food safety on the farm. We appreciate his comments.
Congratulations to Rylee, Mike and Dana. Also, thank you STOP Foodborne Illness. Your continued work to shine a light on the impact of food safety on real people is crucial and important in preventing illnesses. In our eyes, you are heroes too.