Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship | 2019-2020






The Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship is a partnership between Stop Foodborne Illness and Michigan State University Online Food Safety Program. The Fellow will work with Stop Foodborne Illness and complete a 12-credit Online Food Safety Certificate with Michigan State University. Salary for the Fellowship is $25,000.


Start Date: August 27, 2019 | End Date: August 16, 2020 |

The Fellowship will be offered to one recent graduate (2016-2019) with a food science, animal science, political science, or public health undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited college or university. Preference will be given to those seeking a career in food industry or food regulation.

The Fellow will:

  1. Work in the Stop Foodborne Illness office 35 hours a week.
  2. Complete two projects defined by the Stop and MSU Online Food Safety Directors.
  3. Familiarize themselves with stories on the Honor Wall at www.stopfoodborneillness.org.
  4. Participate in weekly Safe Food Coalition calls; with possible travel to Washington, DC.
  5. Assist Community Coordinator in identified initiatives.
  6. Staff Stop’s booth (with others) at conferences, including the 2020 International Association for Food Protection conference in Cleveland, OH.
  7. Attend Creating a Food Safety Culture Executive Education at MSU, May, 2020.
  8. Talk with the Stop Executive Director and the MSU OFS Director (ongoing) regarding progress of the Fellowship.
  9. Finish the MSU Food Safety Certificate coursework (12 credits).

Download Dave Theno Application 2019

To apply, each student must send (or have sent):

  1. A completed application.
  2. Official transcripts from their degree granting university.
  3. A Statement of Intent outlining their background, professional interests, their reason for wanting this fellowship, and how they believe it will help their future career.
  4. Three letters of recommendation (2 academic, 1 personal)

Application and all supplemental materials must be received by Saturday, May 4, 2019.  

Email: srutledge@stopfoodborneillness.org
Snail Mail: Stop Foodborne Illness, 4809 N Ravenswood Ave, #214 Chicago, IL 60640 Attn: Dave Theno Fellowship


SOME THOUGHTS FROM FIRST FELLOW, EMILY FORAUER, UCONN BS in Pathobiology and BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Being the Dave Theno Food Safety Fellow at Stop Foodborne Illness is a really unique position because all my previous food safety experience is on the scientific side, and now I’m on the personal side interacting with the people whose lives are completely changed by contaminated food.

I’ve read every story on the website’s Honor Wall, and I’m working on projects to help others be able to share their stories about foodborne illness. Seeing how someone’s voice can change another’s perspective is fascinating, people will work harder and take safe actions when they see how they’re holding someone’s life in their hands — their decisions can literally change a life.

Working with Stop has added a big element of compassion to my work, and I’m going to take that with me no matter where I end up in my career.

Another part of the fellowship is earning the Food Safety Certificate from Michigan State, so I get to keep learning more about the science behind food safety. The classes are genuinely engaging even though they’re online. I loved Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens and I’m starting Foodborne Disease Epidemiology right now which I think is going to be a really interesting challenge.

Every day I’m surprised at what I’m able to do in this position! As a student, I think it’s really valuable that I’m participating in the Safe Food Coalition, which has meetings with amazingly impressive people from CDC and FSIS, not to mention the members of the coalition from organizations such as the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. I’ve never realized how important it is for advocates to keep pushing for safer food, and the policy changes that have happened in recent years are super interesting to learn about.

I have also gotten to travel all over the country, to conferences, expos, and I even met the food safety team for the national restaurant chain Jack In The Box. That was really awe-inspiring, my being there as a result of the deep connections between Stop and Dave Theno, who many knew as “the man who saved Jack In The Box.”

This fellowship was named for Dave, who was always working to create safer ways for food to be produced with a scientific approach while also knowing he worked for people, especially the children, who he wanted to protect. This fellowship is the perfect environment for a student to gain a wider perspective on food safety and really feel like the work you do matters.

I would encourage anyone who’s got an interest in food safety to apply, this fellowship will actually change your life.


Stop Foodborne Illness formed under the name Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP) in 1993, out of the collective grief and anger of individuals, whose children and families were unmercifully caught in what became known as the West Coast E. coli Outbreak. Most people had no idea what E. coli was, let alone the kind of havoc it was capable of unleashing.

Propelled by love, confusion, and anger — these mothers, fathers, friends and families knew they had to raise a voice that America would hear. They wanted answers AND change. Above all, they wanted to prevent anyone from having to go through what they had experienced.

Today, Stop Foodborne Illness is a voice for any who want to turn awareness into action.


Stop Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death from foodborne pathogens by promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness.

Partnering with leaders in food industry, we promote sound food safety policy and best practices from farm to table. We encourage federal and state bodies and agencies to mitigate food safety risks through policy and legislation. For media, government, industry, and consumers, it is our volunteer advocates who provide a human face behind the statistics – a powerful reminder of the need for a vigilant food safety culture.

For those impacted by foodborne pathogens we provide a platform, through our website and a wide-range of speaking opportunities, to share their story. We offer peer-to-peer mentoring for victims and families across the country. We create and maintain an array of beneficial information (downloadable on our website) for anyone seeking more knowledge on foodborne illness. The stories on our website’s Honor Wall are a testament to the strength and endurance of individuals and families. Telling one’s story is often, not only empowering for the storyteller, but thought provoking for the listener.

We empower a broad spectrum of consumers to become food safety advocates where they live, through free resources and up-to-date information. For timely news regarding recalled food and potentially harmful outbreaks, subscribe to our e-Alerts. Likewise, our informative eNews regularly provides constituents and subscribers with relevant food safety-related interviews, and keeps our readers current on the activities of our volunteer advocates, and staff.


The Fellowship includes tuition support to complete a 12 credit, online, Food Safety Certificate with Michigan State University. The Certificate includes three required courses: VM 811 Evolution and Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens, VM 812 Food Safety Toxicology, and VM 831 Food Safety Epidemiology, plus one elective course. Coursework for the MSU Food Safety Certification will be paid for by Stop Foodborne Illness.

For course descriptions and a list of electives, visit http://foodsafety.msu.edu/continuing-education/food-safety.



David Theno

David Theno was a man of action, and was passionate about what it really meant to keep food safe. It was about family. A friendship with one of the founders of Stop Foodborne Illness (who lost a child to E. coli O157:H7) profoundly influenced Dave to keep a photograph of her daughter, Lauren Beth, in his wallet throughout his career, to remind him of the devastation wrought by foodborne pathogens. As a result, he worked tirelessly to create a culture of food safety.

Dave 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.

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.

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

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