On July 28, 2023, Reginald (Reggie) W. Bennett, M.Sc., a longtime member of Food Safety Magazine’s (FSM’s) Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), a 2017 recipient of FSM’s Distinguished Service Award, and a renowned microbiologist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), passed away. Mr. Bennett was a researcher, teacher, and consummate advocate of rapid methods and automation in microbiology.  

During his long career at FDA, having joined the agency in 1960, Mr. Bennett served as Acting Chief of the Food and Cosmetic Microbiology Branch, Chief of the Microbial Methods Development Branch, and Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of Regulatory Science. He specialized in research on enterotoxin-producing bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus, and developed a method to detect heat-altered staphylococcal enterotoxin to help ensure the safety of canned foods.

Prior to receiving FSM’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award for his significant impacts on food safety, Mr. Bennett was the recipient of the prestigious Harvey W. Wiley Award from the Association of Analytical Chemists (AOAC International) in 1991 and the Group Recognition Award for the Chinese Canned Mushroom Group from FDA in 1990. In 2004, he was recognized with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association for Food Protection for his professional achievements that made a lasting impact on advancing food safety worldwide. Mr. Bennett was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and AOAC International, and served as a member of FSM’s EAB from 2002–2018.

Reggie was a prolific researcher, and a teacher and mentor to FDA staff, academia, and members of the food industry. Throughout his long and illustrious career, he contributed regularly to the technical and scientific programs of IAFP and AOAC, and was a regular contributor to the longstanding annual workshops on Rapid Methods and Automation in Food Microbiology at the Kansas State University and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Mr. Bennett received a B.S. in Microbiology in 1995 and a M.Sc. in Microbiology in 1998 from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining FDA, he served as a medical bacteriologist at hospitals in Western Pennsylvania; as an Assistant Professor of microbiology for Benedict University in Columbia, South Carolina; and as an Adjunct Professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Bennett’s cheerful and optimistic disposition, his love for food microbiology, and his tireless energy and care for his colleagues and students will be remembered by all who knew him.