CHICAGO, July 20, 2021 – The national nonprofit public health organization Stop Foodborne Illness announced today that Shrinidhi “Nidhi” Joshi has been named its 2021-2022 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellow.
Joshi was selected by a committee comprised of professionals and educators from STOP and from the Michigan State University Online Food Safety Program.
“Year after year, the quality of candidates applying for the Theno Fellowship is remarkable,” said Mitzi Baum, CEO of STOP. “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, which includes housing, pay and benefits, requires that the Fellow work full-time for Stop Foodborne Illness and complete a 12-credit Online Food Safety Certificate with Michigan State University. Dave Theno, a food safety consultant who died in 2017 and for whom the Fellowship is named, was instrumental in establishing food preparation and cooking protocols that permanently changed procedures in the restaurant and fast-food industries.
“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, a graduate of Texas Tech University, 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.
Joshi is stepping in for Jamie Ragos, STOP’s 2019 -2021 Theno Fellow. Ragos, a Fulbright Scholar, will be heading to Taiwan after COVID-related delays to study/research for a year and is applying to medical schools.
About Stop Foodborne Illness
Established in 1993, STOP Foodborne Illness (originally named Safe Tables Our Priority) is a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death from foodborne pathogens. Our programs are centered on promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. We advocate tirelessly to regulate food handling and processing from farm to table. We partner with Congress, the USDA, the FDA, the CDC, and other relevant agencies and organizations to mitigate food safety risks through policy and legislation.
The Impact of Foodborne Illnesses
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year foodborne illnesses impact millions of Americans, causing more than 100,000 to be hospitalized. Approximately 3,000 people will die from the effects of foodborne illness and others live with the long-term and often debilitating impacts for life.
The need for consumer and food industry education about foodborne illnesses was highlighted in 1992, when an E. coli outbreak from undercooked hamburger meat killed four people and left thousands sick.
STOP has been instrumental in promoting the passage of food safety laws including the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Most importantly, we are proud of our nationwide community of 31,000 activists, educators and supporters.
He was passionate about what it really meant to keep food safe.
It was about family.
A friendship with Roni Rudolph, 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-based 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, Urbana-Champaign.
Dave 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.