Too many tragedies from foodborne pathogens

Stories in food safety matter. Folks aren’t compelled by the fancy facts and figures that all of us nerds have access to. It’s too easy to forget that food safety is about people that get sick. When I get bogged down by the churn of the academic system and all the rhetoric around policy, stories like that of Serena Faith Profitt clarify things for me.1410363185283_wps_18_Serena_Faith_Proffit_7_pn

Serena, a 4-year-old Oregonian died from pathogenic E. coli last week; according to News Times, her family is preparing for her memorial.

A week after the nearly unbearable death of her granddaughter, Laurie Whitaker wiped at an eye and laughed while recalling the tow-headed 4-year-old who called her “Nana.”

“She was very, very smart,” reflected Whitaker, swept into an unsolved mystery that resulted in the death of Serena Faith Profitt from E. coli poisoning. “She knew her alphabet at two-and-a-half, and could count to 50 by the time she was four. She had an ear for music — not kids’ nursery rhymes, but real music. And she loved twirly dresses and sparkly shoes, which is all she ever wore.”

On Monday, Whitaker buried her own grief and hit the bricks to organize a funeral service for Serena that is likely to stretch the resources of the tight-knit clan over which she dotes

Stuff like this makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. It makes me think about my kids; the kids in my family; and, all the folks I know with youngsters.

And reminds me of why I do what I do.

This entry was posted in E. coli, Food Safety Culture and tagged , , by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.