Nancy Donley, STOP Foodborne Illness

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Nancy Donley is recognized as a leading proponent of improvement in both government and private food safety efforts. Nancy works in a volunteer capacity for STOP Foodborne Illness (formerly S.T.O.P.—Safe Tables Our Priority) and has served as its president for over 10 years. Nancy serves on the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection.

As the President of STOP Foodborne Illness, a national, grassroots, non-profit public health organization whose mission is to prevent illness and death from pathogens in the food supply, my work involves building awareness of foodborne risk and its management. Our members include families who have suffered illness and loss from a broad spectrum of food types. I personally became involved in the issue of food safety after the death of my 6-year-old son, Alex, from E. coli O157:H7 poisoning from contaminated meat in 1993.

Over the years, STOP has significantly improved public health by raising awareness about foodborne pathogens, advocating for stricter regulations and assisting those personally impacted by foodborne illness. We regularly work with and inform receptive food industry trade groups and companies, national and local media, government representatives on both sides of the aisle, as well as the USDA, FDA, and the CDC. We hold congressional forums and panels with legislators, those affected by foodborne illness and professionals from a diverse range of disciplines, such as physicians and meat inspectors.

While STOP’s core work involves advocating for stronger public health-based policies to prevent contaminated food from making its way into the marketplace in the first place, we recognize that there is no such thing as 100% safe food and that consumers must be armed with information to best protect themselves from contracting foodborne illness. The work of the Partnership for Food Safety Education plays a vital role in the chain of risk management. It raises consumer awareness of risks in food and provides home safe food handling practices. Consumers need to know what they can do, in their homes, to protect their families when preparing meals. Simply put, food preparers need to know about the potential consequences and core practices to protect their families from illness as best as they can. We are excited to see that the Partnership is pursuing measurement of safe food handling behaviors and improving outcomes in food safety education. STOP is proud to work with the Partnership in their strategic initiative process to improve effectiveness in food safety education.