STOP Foodborne Illness Receives Golden Checkmark Award

Following an insightful discussion on the positive impacts being realized in the leafy greens community by connecting farm workers with real people, the California LGMA bestowed its highest honor on an organization called STOP Foodborne Illness.   STOP, a non-profit group, was presented with the LGMA’s Golden Checkmark Award in recognition of their tireless advocacy on behalf of victims of foodborne illness and their support of mandatory government oversight of food safety systems.

Accepting the award were Deirdre Schlunegger, STOP CEO; Jorge Hernandez, Chief Food Safety Officer at Wholesome International who is also a member of STOP’s Board; and Rylee Gustafson, a young woman whose life was forever changed by the 2006 e-coli outbreak associated with spinach.

“STOP was an advocate for mandatory food safety programs with government oversight long before the LGMA existed.  As we have gotten to know STOP and they have come to know members of the leafy greens community, we have developed a mutually beneficial relationship based on our shared commitment to preventing foodborne illness.”


– Scott Horsfall, LGMA CEO

STOP Foodborne illness was originally known as Safe Tables Our Priority and was formed in the aftermath of the 1993 E. coli outbreak associated with hamburger, which brought the issue of food safety to the forefront of the national media and spurred an examination of food safety standards and practices. The work of STOP and its many volunteer advocates has resulted in numerous historical achievements in food safety policy.  Government officials, industry leaders, academics, public health organizations, members of Congress and the media recognize and regularly consult STOP on issues concerning food safety.

The LGMA began working with STOP in 2012 after a group of STOP volunteers impacted by foodborne illness visited the leafy greens fields of California to learn more about the program which verifies science-based food safety practices are being followed on farms.

“Meeting people like Rylee changed my life,” said Dan Sutton, general manager of the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange, a certified handler member of the California LGMA. “Not only did I come to deeply understand why food safety on the farm is so important, but she stole my heart.  Today, people who work on our farms are taught to remember Rylee as motivation to always remembering the why behind our food safety program. Rylee has become one of the best food safety trainers in our industry.”

The LGMA has produced a video in partnership with STOP that has become part of a comprehensive worker training program for the leafy greens industry. The video and the impact the stories of real people impacted by food borne illness are producing amazing results in the leafy greens industry.  This information was the subject of a morning workshop held as part of the United Fresh Produce Association’s convention in Chicago.  The award was presented to STOP in a brief ceremony following that workshop.

For more information on the LGMA training program please visit and please check out STOP’s website at  The organization is very interested in building additional relationships throughout the produce industry like they have with the LGMA.



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