Annual program recognizes outstanding accomplishments in food safety

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – NSF International, a global public health and safety organization that provides food safety and quality assurance services across all food supply chain sectors, announced the winners of the 2014 NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards today during the 2014 Food Safety Summit at the Baltimore Convention Center:

2014 NSF Food Safety Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award

William Keene, Ph.D., MPH (posthumous, accepted by William Marler)
Senior Epidemiologist, Acute & Communicable Disease Prevention, Oregon Public Health Division

2014 NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards for Training and Education

Jason Bashura, MPH, RS
Senior Food Defense Analyst, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (has since moved to PepsiCo)

Brian Nummer, Ph.D.
Extension Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University

Now in its eleventh year, the NSF International Food Safety Leadership Awards recognize individuals and organizations for real and lasting improvements to food safety. NSF created the awards to encourage innovation in educational programs, processes and technologies to advance food safety.

Each year, an independent panel of food safety experts from academia, industry and the regulatory community reviews nominations from around the world to select the recipients. Nominations are evaluated on the basis of innovation, design and contribution to the advancement of food safety.

“In presenting these awards, we honor the winners for their contributions to food safety and the protection of public health. The work of William Keene, Jason Bashura and Brian Nummer has contributed to important advances in food safety research, education and training. Their leadership and enthusiasm in applying science-based methods, public outreach and training to solve vital food safety issues embodies the spirit of NSF International’s Food Safety Leadership Awards,” said Kevan P. Lawlor, NSF International President and Chief Executive Officer.

The 2014 NSF Food Safety Leadership Award Winners:

Lifetime Achievement Award: William Keene (posthumous, accepted by William Marler)

William Keene, Ph.D., MPH, was a leading expert on foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigation. He was instrumental in solving foodborne illness outbreaks over the past two decades and his methods have been adopted by health departments nationwide.

Dr. Keene pioneered methods of solving foodborne illness outbreaks, including “shotgun” questionnaires (comprehensive hypothesis-generating surveys) and a binomial probability method to quickly pinpoint likely sources of outbreaks. This improved the efficiency of E. coli and salmonellosis investigations in meat, poultry and produce. In 2006, he helped crack the source of a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in bagged spinach.

Dr. Keene contributed to studies with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments. Many of his publications were firsts in the field, including those linking E. coli O157:H7 to deer. Representing the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Dr. Keene helped build the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreaks Response (CIFOR) and contributed to writing its Guidelines for Foodborne Outbreak Response. He designed corresponding templates to systematically collect information needed to rapidly solve outbreaks. His energy and enthusiasm helped drive the development of the Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence.

Aside from mentoring epidemiologists and public health professionals, Dr. Keene advised on hundreds of outbreaks nationwide. He was a sought-after consultant in the U.S. and by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. He passed away in December 2013, but his impact on food safety will be felt for a long time to come.

“Bill was a legend in our field − a force for food safety and a true consensus builder,” says Dr. Duc J. Vugia, Chief of the Infectious Diseases Branch at the California Department of Public Health. “He reached out to epidemiologists, regulatory agencies and industry to work together to optimize food safety.”

“Bill was a fearless advocate of both solid science and protecting the public health,” says William D. Marler, Managing Partner at Marler Clark LLP PS and publisher of Food Safety News. “He embodied the phrase ‘speaking truth to power.’  He will be a voice that is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed.”

Training and Education: Jason Bashura, Senior Food Defense Analyst, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (now at PepsiCo)

Jason Bashura, MPH, RS, alongside FDA, public health, agriculture, academia and industry professionals, helped develop innovative food defense programs now used by regulatory agencies and industry nationwide. At the FDA’s Food Defense and Emergency Coordination Staff, he oversaw the development of the Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B), a toolkit of simulation scenarios to help organizations assess their readiness to respond to food contamination incidents. He provided technical guidance to the Innovative Food Defense Program, collaborated with regulatory officials on addressing gaps in food defense education and training needs, and was closely involved in several interagency/multidisciplinary efforts intended to eliminate the duplication of food defense-related initiatives.

In 2013, Bashura coordinated a food defense symposium to help raise awareness of retail food service food defense issues. He also helped secure FDA funding to support the development of a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention e-learning tool designed to assist frontline environmental health professionals to improve their readiness to respond to foodborne disease outbreaks. Additionally, Bashura provided direct outreach to approximately 3,000 stakeholders via webinars, workshops and conference calls, and fostered multidisciplinary collaboration between public health, academia, law enforcement, emergency management and industry stakeholders to raise awareness in seeking to build a culture of food defense. 

“Jason takes a very hands-on approach to his work. It’s very personal to him, and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious when he’s educating stakeholders about food defense issues. Jason is truly one in a million,” said Jennifer McEntire, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Science Officer of The Acheson Group.

Training and Education: Dr. Brian Nummer, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University

Dr. Brian Nummer is an expert food safety trainer and educator for manufacturers, retailers and foodservice professionals.  Specializing in retail and foodservice food safety, Dr. Nummer has conducted nationwide workshops for environmental health professionals and food operators on reduced oxygen packaging (ROP) to meet the U.S. Model Food Code.  As a result, regulators were able to determine their ROP policies, educate their staff and enact rules or state codes. Industry participants were able to complete hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans and now are processing foods using ROP.

Dr. Nummer has trained over 6,000 food workers in manager food safety and another 2,000 in HACCP, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), advanced sanitation, behavior-based food safety, acidified foods, safe jerky manufacture or meat and poultry processing. He also provides training and safety advice to consumers on home food preserving and storage.

“Dr. Nummer’s teaching style is informative and engaging. He provided real-world examples of how to handle reduced oxygen packaging (ROP) opportunities that helped my company better understand and use ROP to our advantage in the restaurant environment,” says Eric D. Martin, Director, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Margaritaville Hospitality Group, Inc.

Currently on sabbatical from Utah State University, Dr. Nummer is serving as Senior Food Safety Advisor to the Chief Safety Officer and Vice President at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards are judged by an independent panel of jurors. 2014 jurors  included:

  • Mary Adolf, M.S., R.D., Executive Director, International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association
  • Shelley Feist, Executive Director, Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE)
  • Donna Garren, Ph.D., Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs, American Frozen Food Institute
  • Jack Guzewich, U.S. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (retired)
  • Ernest Julian, Ph.D., Chief of the Office of Food Protection, Rhode Island Department of Health
  • Ronald Klein, Program Director, Association of Food and Drug Officials
  • Jim Mann, Founder and Executive Director, The Handwashing For Life Institute
  • David Theno, Ph.D., CEO, Gray Dog Partners Inc., Food Consulting
  • Ewen Todd, Ph.D., President, Ewen Todd Consulting, and former Director of Food Safety Policy Center, Michigan State University
  • Donald Zink, Ph.D., President-Elect, International Association for Food Protection, and Senior Science Advisor, U.S. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

Editor’s note: For more information on the NSF Food Safety Leadership Awards or to schedule an interview with an NSF International food safety expert, contact Greta Houlahan at media@nsf.org or 248-866-5326.

About NSF International: NSF International is a global independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF International is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment.

The NSF Global Food Division provides expertise and accredited services across all supply chain sectors, from agriculture, produce, processing, distribution and dairy, to seafood, fish meal, retail and restaurants. Services include Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification (SQF, BRC, IFS, FSSC 22000, GLOBALG.A.P., BAP and CanadaGAP), plus expert auditing, consulting and technical services, HACCP validation and inspection, organic food certification through Quality Assurance International (QAI), and specialty food verification and certification (including Non-GMO Project and gluten-free). NSF is also the leading certifier of foodservice equipment, nonfood compounds and bottled water/beverages. Many food codes in the U.S. require food equipment used in commercial establishments to be certified to NSF commercial food equipment standards.

Additional NSF International services include dietary supplement and nutritional ingredient certification; training, testing and consulting for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries; consumer product testing; drinking water certification and safety audits; sustainability solutions; and management systems registrations (e.g. ISO 9001, 22000, 14001).