In the middle of a late January D.C. snowstorm that jammed intersections, closed airports and made commutes last several hours, Senators Harkin, Klobuchar and Durbin and Congress Members Pallone and DeLauro, who were instrumental in pushing the Food Safety Modernization Act onto President Obama’s desk, honored victims, many my clients, of food poisoning events over the last two decades.

Of course the kids, Ashley and Isabella Armstrong, Jacob Hurley and Rylee Gustafson, understandably took center stage, yet there were many others to honor, some in attendance and some not:

Jeff Almer (MN) – Jeff testified in 2009 to The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. His mother, Shirley died in 2008 from complications caused by eating a peanut butter product made from Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) peanuts. She was one of 9 who died and at least 714 people who were sickened in the 2008 Salmonella outbreak traced to products containing PCA peanuts.

Kelly Cobb (WA) – Kelly testified in 2009 to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. She contracted E. coli O157:H7 that developed into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome after eating Romaine Lettuce in a 2008 outbreak that made at least 9 people ill in the Northwest.

Cheryl and Brian Grubbs (CO) – Brian became ill from eating Salmonella-contaminated peppers along with 1,200 others in 2008.

Lindsey and Michael Jennings (MI) – Lindsey became ill in 2008 during an E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak linked to lettuce grown in California.

Karen Hibben-Levi (IA) – Karen was sickened in 2006 after eating E. coli O157:H7-contaminated lettuce grown in California.

Leigh Ann Winnard (MO) – Leigh Ann’s son Matthew was sickened in 2007 with an E. coli O157:H7 infection.

Sarah Lewis (CA) – Sarah testified in 2010 to The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. She became ill with Salmonella in the Wright County and Hillandale Farms egg Salmonella outbreak of 2010 that resulted in 550 million eggs being recalled and at 1,609 reported cases of Salmonella.

Terri Marshall (LA) – Terri testified in 2007 to The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Her Mother-in-Law, Mora Marshall, has remained in a nursing home since eating Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter in 2007 (Video).

Gabrielle Meunier (VT) – Gabrielle Testified in 2008 to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry. Her son Christopher was hospitalized due to a Salmonella infection in the 2008 PCA peanut butter outbreak.

Margo Moskowitz (SC) – Margo was hospitalized after becoming ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection during the 2009 Nestle Toll House cookie dough outbreak that lead to at least 69 cases in 29 states.

Gary and Mary Ann Pruden (PA) – Gary testified in 2007 to The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Their son, Sean, who was 7 years old at the time, spent weeks in the hospital when contracted an E. coli O157:H7 infection that lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome after eating at Taco Bell in 2007.

Amanda Sands (NC) – Amanda was sickened with Salmonella in the 2010 Wright County and Hillandale Farms egg outbreak.

Lou Tousignant  (MN) – Lou testified in 2009 to The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (Video). His father, Clifford, died from consuming a peanut butter product made from PCA peanuts (Video).

Stacey Walker (CA) – Stacey contracted Salmonella during the 2010 Wright County and Hillandale Farms egg outbreak.

Ryan Wilson (NH) – Ryan was sickened with Salmonella that resulted in psoriatic arthritis (reactive arthritis) from eating pizza made with tomatoes that were contaminated with Salmonella.

As I blended into the rich wood paneling of a Senate meeting room sipping my wine, I saw two women who would never have their precocious child stand for a picture with their favorite Senator or Congress Member, my heroes, Nancy Donley and Barbara Kowalcyk.

nancydonleyx-mug-shot.jpgNancy Donley is recognized as a leading proponent of improvement in both government and private food safety efforts since the death of her six-year old son Alex in 1993 from consumption of E. coli O157:H7-contaminated ground beef. Alex was her and her husband’s, Tom, only child. Ms. Donley works in a volunteer capacity for S.T.O.P.—Safe Tables Our Priority and has served as its president for over 10 years. She has done extensive advocacy work on behalf of the organization and has been featured in numerous magazine articles, newspaper articles and television interviews in efforts to increase awareness about the risks of foodborne illness. Nancy served on the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection from 1996-2002. She has received numerous awards for her advocacy efforts.

barbarakowalcyk.jpgBarbara Kowalcyk became involved in foodborne illness prevention in 2001 following the death of her 2 ½ year old son, Kevin, from complications due to an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Ms. Kowalcyk has volunteered extensively as a consumer advocate for food safety and co-founded the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention in 2006. In addition, Ms. Kowalcyk has served on USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) from 2005 – 2009. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute’s Produce Safety Project, as well as two National Academies of Science committees. Ms. Kowalcyk has given numerous presentations on food safety at national conferences and food safety forums. In 2008, she participated in the filming of the documentary Food Inc., a film that examines food production in America.

It is time for all of us to step up and help the people who are helping your family have a safer food supply.  I will match your donation up to $5,000 to each Safe Tables Our Priority and Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention.  Click on the links above and email me the amount of your donation to

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Bill, that is wonderful of you to do a matching campaign on behalf of two wonderful organizations. These organizations really need our help. When Christopher became ill, I was introduced to both lovely ladies mentioned above. They have both worked tirelessly on behalf of all American citizens to make our food supply safer. Safe Tables Our Priority has become like a second family to me (STOP). Nancy and her staff are kind and caring and extremely dedicated to their cause. Both of these organizations deserve our strong support. Thanks to their work, issues surrounding foodborne illness are given more of a human experience. I urge everyone to please take advantage of Bill’s generosity and please support these two organizations.

  • Deirdre Schlunegger

    Thank you so much for your generostiy. It helps the organization immensely as we meet our mission and goals. It was nice meeting you last week.
    Deirdre Schlunegger

  • Margaret Quinn

    Bill – it was great to finally meet you and get to introduce myself in person last week. I know we’ve been on email communication for almost 6 years, but it was wonderful to finally get the chance to shake your hand. You have done some amazing things for our members and this is just one example. On behalf of all of our members, Thank You!