Home » Multimedia » Podcasts » Food Safety Matters » Ep. 126. Blum, Keener: The Poison Squad and the Fight for Food Safety Legislation
Food Safety Matters
Food Safety Matters is a podcast for food safety professionals hosted by the Food Safety Magazine editorial team – the leading media brand in food safety for over 20 years. Each episode will feature a conversation with a food safety professional sharing their experiences and insights of the important job of safeguarding the world’s food supply.
Deborah Blum, Director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT and the Publisher of Undark magazine, is a Pulitzer-Prize winning science journalist, columnist and author of six books, most recently, The Poison Squad, a 2018 New York Times Notable Book. That book, as with all her recent books, focuses on influential moments in the history of science. She has worked as a science columnist for The New York Times, a blogger for Wired, and has written for other publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Mother Jones, The Guardian to Lapham’s Quarterly. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Science Writing, Best American Nature Writing, and Best Science On-Line.
Before joining MIT in the summer of 2015, she was the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a position she held for 18 years. Previously, she worked at five different newspapers, including as a staff science writer for The Sacramento Bee, where she won the Pulitzer in 1992 for her reporting on ethical issues in primate research. She received her A.B.J. from the University of Georgia in 1976 and her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Journalism in Mass Communication in 1982.
Deborah is a past president of the National Association of Science Writers and a former board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists. She serves on the advisory boards of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, Chemical and Engineering News, Spectrum, The Scientist and the MIT Museum. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a lifetime associate of the National Academy of Sciences, both in recognition of her work in public understanding of science.
Larry Keener, C.F.S., P.A., P.C.Q.I., is President and CEO of International Product Safety Consultants Inc. (IPSC), based in Seattle, Washington. IPSC is a global leader in providing food safety and food technology solutions to the food processing industry for a broad client base of Fortune 500 food companies, academic research institutes, and government agencies. IPSC is engaged in the conformity, risk assessment, and food safety verification business.
Larry is an internationally regarded microbiologist and process authority in the food industry. His areas of expertise range from applied food microbiology to the development and application of novel preservation technologies including: high pressure processing (HPP), microwave, pulsed electric field (PEF), high-powered ultrasound, atmospheric plasma, and low-energy electron beam technology. He is a past president of IFT's Nonthermal Processing Division.
Larry is a 2013 Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a board-certified food scientist (International Food Science Certification Commission), and a 2018 recipient of an International Union of Food Science and Technology's (IUFoST) lifetime achievement award for his work in microbiology and food safety. He is a two-term past president of Tuskegee University's Food and Nutrition Sciences Advisory Board. Larry is also a 2022 inductee into the George Washington Carver Society. He has received numerous other awards and honors, and he has published more than 100 papers on subjects related to food production and food safety science.
Larry is a frequently invited speaker to food industry, business, and scientific conferences, workshops, and seminars. He is also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine.
Michael R. Taylor is a member of the board of Stop Foodborne Illness, a consumer organization supporting and representing the victims of foodborne illness and their families. From January 2010 to June 2016, he served as Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He led FDA's implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and oversaw FDA's other food-related activities, including its nutrition, labeling, food additive, dietary supplement, and animal drug programs. Previously, Mike served at FDA as a staff attorney and Deputy Commissioner for Policy, and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as FSIS Administrator and Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety. Prior to re-joining FDA in 2009, he spent nearly a decade in academia conducting food safety, food security, and public health policy research, most recently at George Washington University's School of Public Health. Mike is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Virginia School of Law.
An accomplished attorney and national expert in food safety, William (Bill) Marler has become the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America with his firm, Marler Clark: The Food Safety Law Firm, and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world. For the past 26 years, Bill has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the U.S. He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6-million settlement with the company. The 2011 book, Poisoned, by best-selling author Jeff Benedict, chronicles the Jack in the Box outbreak and the rise of Bill Marler as a food safety attorney.
Bill's advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims' organizations, and helping spur the passage of the 2010–2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding them. He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety, and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the U.S. He is also a frequent writer on topics related to foodborne illness and the Publisher of the online news site, Food Safety News, and his award-winning blog, www.marlerblog.com. He is frequent media guest on food safety issues and has been profiled in numerous publications.
In 2010, Bill was awarded the NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Education, and in 2008 he earned the Outstanding Lawyer Award by the King County Bar Association. He has also received the Public Justice Award from the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. Bill graduated from the Seattle University School of Law in 1987, and in 1998 was the Law School's "Lawyer in Residence." In 2011, he was given Seattle University's Professional Achievement Award. He is a member of the board of directors of Bainbridge Youth Services and a member of the Children's Hospital Circle of Care.
John Butts, Ph.D., is the Principal at Food Safety By Design LLC and the Advisor to the CEO at Land O' Frost Inc., where he was in the primary technical role for 47 years, having retired in 2021. As part of his succession plan, Dr. Butts founded Food Safety By Design LLC in 2010. Food Safety By Design helps producers of high-risk products learn how to prevent and manage food safety risks. Dr. Butts' specialty is the incorporation of food safety practices into company culture, including root cause identification using the "Seek and Destroy" scientific strategy for identifying and eliminating harborage sites for pathogens, which Dr. Butts developed earlier in his career.
In the early 1980s, Land O' Frost entered the shelf-stable meal business, which Dr. Butts facilitated with product development, process controls, quality assurance, and the invention of a proprietary sealing method. He also provided technical and management support to Frigorifico Canelones, the largest beef processing plant in Uruguay, from 1991–2001 when Land O' Frost owned and managed the business.
Dr. Butts is actively involved in pathogen reduction and control of pathogenic organisms in cooked processed meat products, seafood, leafy greens, and other ready-to-eat products. His current work includes the application of scientific principles and quality management technology to develop sanitation process control methods and procedures.
Dr. Butts is the recipient of many prominent awards throughout his professional career from NSF International, the American Meat Science Association, the North American Meat Institute, Purdue University, the Meat Industry Hall of Fame, and Food Safety Magazine's Distinguished Service Award. He has published dozens of technical articles and delivered numerous presentations, workshops, classes, and interviews over the years. He is an active member of the North American Meat Institute's Scientific Affairs Committee for over 40 years, and was a founding member of Special Poultry Research Committee to obtain approval of nitrite in poultry during the Carter Administration. He is also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine.
Conrad Choiniere, Ph.D., is the Director of the Office of Analytics and Outreach at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Dr. Choiniere provides executive leadership for a broad portfolio of scientific and regulatory functions including risk and decision analysis, social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics and informatics, education and outreach, and food defense. Dr. Choiniere currently co-leads a core element of FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety focused on fostering and supporting food safety culture across the food system. He also chairs FDA's Toxic Elements Working Group, which prioritizes the Administration's efforts to reduce exposures to lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals from foods to the greatest extent feasible. Dr. Choiniere holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland and a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Kruti Ravaliya, M.S., Consumer Safety Officer in the Division of Produce Safety at FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, joined the Division of Produce Safety as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow in July 2013, and transitioned to be a Consumer Safety Officer in April 2015. She has been involved with the Division of Produce Safety in a variety of ways, most significantly in developing the Supplemental and Final Agricultural Water Quality provision in the Produce Safety Rule. She earned her M.S. degree in Food Science, with minors in Biotechnology and Food Safety, at North Carolina State University in 2013, and a B.S. degree in Food Science and Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2007. Previously, Ms. Ravaliya worked in food product development with the International Food Network.
Gillian Kelleher is President and CEO of Kelleher Consultants LLC, as well as the Chairperson of the Educational Advisory Board (EAB) for the 2023 Food Safety Summit. Gillian has significant, global leadership experience in the food industry and in food safety and quality, having lived and worked in Ireland, the UK, France, and the U.S. She has worked in diverse sectors including manufacturing, foodservice, retail, and distribution.
She was formerly Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Wegmans Food Markets, where her scope of responsibility included all aspects of food safety and quality for stores, self-manufacturing, distribution, and Wegmans' private-label program. Prior to her tenure at Wegmans, Kelleher also worked at Häagen Dazs, Burger King, Express Foods, and Pillsbury. In addition, she has led the development of food safety and quality programs for many large and small private-label suppliers and distributors.
Kelleher earned her B.S. degree in Dairy and Food Science from University College Cork in Ireland. She is also a member of several professional organizations, including the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP). She is a past co-Vice Chair of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors of Stop Foodborne Illness, a longstanding member of Harvard's Private and Public Scientific, Academic, and Consumer Food Policy Committee (PAPSAC), and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine. Kelleher is also actively involved in the Leafy Greens Safety Coalition (LGSC).
With her significant industry experience and dedication to food safety and quality, Kelleher will work with the esteemed Food Safety Summit EAB and the Summit planning team to shape the educational agenda for the 2023 Food Safety Summit, which will be held May 8–11 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
Jill Stuber has served on FSQ teams for several multi-million-dollar food companies and food industry support companies, at both the corporate and frontline facility levels. She has defined expectations and programs for company-wide FSQ systems and has been responsible for verifying the implementation of those systems. Jill has led multi-plant teams to clearly define team and individual roles, expectations, and boundaries to more fully integrate and collaborate across organizations.
Jill holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in food science from the University of Wisconsin (at River Falls and Madison, respectively); as well as an M.S. degree in quality management from Eastern Michigan University. She is a professional coach certified through Learning Journeys, an accredited program through the International Coaching Federation. She is also HACCP Certified, PCQI Certified, an SQF Practitioner, an IFT Certified Food Scientist, a Lean Facilitator, and a Six Sigma Black Belt. Additionally, Jill is an active member of the International Association for Food Protection, serving as the Developing Food Safety Professional's Professional Development Group Vice Chair.
Tia Glave is a food safety, quality, and regulatory professional with almost a decade of experience in large food manufacturing, food retail, and startup food environments. She is formally trained as a chemical engineer and holds a B.S. degree from the University of Tennessee. She is a qualified individual trained in PCQI and FSVP, is knowledgeable in GFSI schemes, and has worked with many food product categories.
Tia has a passion for helping manufacturing and retail organizations of all sizes build and strengthen their FSQ programs. She uses systems, data, and proven methods to develop and implement FSQ strategies that create efficiencies, are effective, and identify cost savings, all while using servant leadership principles. She has led small and large teams across multiple functions, including operations and maintenance, giving her a unique approach to implementing a strategy cross-functionally.
Tia's passion also extends to championing Black talent in food safety and quality, and she's the founder of the Black Professionals in Food Safety Group to foster sharing, development, and connection to support Black talent. You can find the group on LinkedIn! Tia is also an active member of the International Association for Food Protection, serving as the Retail and Foodservice Professional Development Group Vice Chair.