Toxicology and Societies: Darin Detwiler

Dr. Darin Detwiler

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Event Description

Title: Food Safety: Past, Present, and Predictions – How the PNW shaped America’s current ‘Food Safety Culture.’

In 1993, news of an E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box fast-food restaurants dominated the in the Seattle area.  The headlines and evening news captured audiences’ attention with stories of a public health crisis that sent well over 150 children to the hospital and took the lives of four toddlers.  For nearly three decades after that event, Americans still witness the seemingly uninterrupted cycle of crisis-and-reform through headline after headline of multistate outbreaks and huge recalls involving major labels and national retail or restaurant chains. Behind the scenes, however, the food industry has grown to embrace food safety in ways never before imagined.

Looking at 1993, Detwiler will explain how the outbreak unfolded and impacted the region, then the nation.  As well as describing families’ sacrifices due to failures in food safety, Detwiler highlights the Pacific Northwest’s important role in the safety of our nation’s food supply.  Through a blend of first person and academic voice, he takes our audience behind the scenes on his experience and his research on the past, problems, people, promises, and predictions for the future of food safety.

Looking at the three decades since the event, Detwiler will share some insights on how media coverage of outbreaks has changed, how food safety laws and policies have changed, and how consumer behavior has changed

About the Speaker: Dr. Darin Detwiler, Author and Professor 

Dr. Darin Detwiler, LP.D., is an internationally recognized and respected food policy expert with nearly 30 years’ experience in shaping federal food policy, consulting with corporations, contributing thought leadership to the food industry, and addressing food safety and authenticity issues in the U.S. and abroad.  After the 1993 “Jack-in-the-Box” E.coli outbreak, Detwiler advised the USDA’s Secretary of Agriculture in their effort to rethink consumer food safety education.  In 2004, the Secretary of Agriculture appointed him to two terms on the USDA’s National Advisory Committee for Meat and Poultry Inspection.  Detwiler later served as the Senior Policy Coordinator for STOP Foodborne Illness.  He went on to support the FDA’s progress towards implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act by bringing forward the true burden of disease to various federal, state, and industry audiences.

Detwiler is a columnist and a member of the editorial advisory board for Quality Assurance Magazine, as well as on numerous committees and advisory panels related to food safety, sanitation, technology, and policy. In 2018, the  INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR FOOD PROTECTION presented Detwiler with their Distinguished Service Award for his “unparalleled achievements across various advisory, advocacy, educational, editorial, and leadership committees related to food policy.”

Detwiler is an associate professor at Northeastern University, an industry consultant, and a frequent speaker at conferences around the world.   A WWU alumni, he taught in WA public schools for 15 years while working with the USDA on food safety policy.  Detwiler is passionate about education, storytelling, and preventing parents from living with a chair forever empty at the family dinner table. Visit him at

A recording of this event is available here


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