Stop Foodborne Illness is here to amplify voices that have experienced great trauma from something as base as eating. We are working for those that understand that public health and food safety are synonymous; and, for the courageous individuals that share their personal tragedy to prevent others from having the same experience.
You are not alone — whether you are in crisis, post-crisis or managing the life-long complications that can accompany surviving contaminated food. We, at Stop Foodborne Illness, are humbly dedicated to you.
We will continue working to stop foodborne illness.
Mary Heersink is a food safety advocate, and the author of E. Coli O157: The True Story of a Mother’s Battle with a Killer Microbe. In it, she recounts the harrowing experience of her son Damion, who in 1992 at the age of 11 ate contaminated hamburger meat at a Boy Scout outing and spent six-and-a-half weeks near death in pediatric intensive care.
Despite Damion’s ultimate victory over E. coli O157:H7, Mrs. Heersink found her confidence in our food safety systems shaken. Her encounters with ineffective government agencies led her to co-found S.T.O.P. (Stop Foodborne Illness) in the aftermath of the Pacific Northwest E.coli epidemic in 1993.
Mrs. Heersink has served on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She has also testified before the U.S. Congress and has presented at scientific meetings, both nationally and internationally.
Mrs. Heersink currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Masters of Global Heath Programme, a joint initiative between McMaster University in Canada, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India, and Thammasat University in Thailand, University College of Southeast Norway, and Universidad del Rosario in Colombia.
She also serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.
She has served on Boards of Directors for numerous nonprofit and civic organizations in her community of Dothan, Alabama, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Dothan, Wiregrass Museum of Art, Houston Academy, and Landmark Park.
Mrs. Heersink has been married for 40 years to Dr. Marnix Heersink, an ophthalmologist. Trained as a visual artist, she is currently illustrating a volume of ophthalmic muscle surgery.
Dr. and Mrs. Heersink have six children and seven grandchildren. Mrs. Heersink splits her time between Alabama and the Netherlands, where the couple renovated a 16th-century national monument in collaboration with a historical preservation foundation.