Food Safety: Past, Present, and Predictions

Top: close up of bacteria. Bottom: raw beef patty on grill

Thursday, November 4, 2021
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time)




Check out this video to watch the Food Safety: Past, Present, and Predictions.

How the PNW shaped America’s current ‘Food Safety Culture’

A Speaker Series:
Toxicology and Societies
The Impacts of Chemicals in Our Lives

Brought to you in partnership with Huxley's Institute of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and the WWU Alumni Association

Please join us for the next speaker in our series on Toxicology and Societies: The Impacts of Chemicals in our Lives.

In 1993, an E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box fast-food restaurants dominated the news 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.

Our vision in developing this series was to support a better understanding of something that affects all of us. There are over 300,000 chemicals being produced and used in almost everything we wear, eat, and drink. How can you ever hope to understand when and where you or your family might be at risk from some of these chemicals? The short answer is, you can’t know everything about all of these substances, but you can learn more about how toxicology (the study of toxic substances) affects you and your society.

This seminar series aims to help you better appreciate, understand, and evaluate the many ways that manufactured chemicals interact with all humans on Earth.

More information about the speaker series is available here.

Dr. Darin Detwiler

Dr. Darin Detwiler


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.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Darin Detwiler.

Ruth Sofield

Ruth Sofield


Ruth Sofield is a Professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry in the College of the Environment. She received her PhD and MS in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Ruth’s research group focuses on the effects of water and air pollution. Their current projects include the aquatic toxicity of microplastic and tire wear particles, and the use of moss as a biomonitoring tool for particulate matter. Ruth is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and the President of the Pacific Northwest Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Tracy Collier

Tracy Collier


Tracy Collier received his PhD in Fisheries Sciences from the University of Washington. He has worked for over 45 years as a toxicologist, with more than 35 of those years spent at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as the director of a science division that employed up to 100 people, covering several disciplines, including environmental toxicology, analytical chemistry, harmful algal blooms, and watershed processes. He has over 175 scientific publications, and currently is an affiliate faculty at Western.

Upcoming Fall Quarter Talks

December 2, 2021
11:00-12:00 p.m. (PT)
Title: A Scientific Strategy towards a Healthier World: Science + Communication + Decision Makers = Positive Change
Speaker: Arlene Blum (Green Science Policy Institute)

Questions and Accommodations

Contact the WWU Alumni Association for this event. Feel free to call at (360) 650-3353 or email at if you have any questions or comments.

There will be auto-captions available for this event. To request closed captions, please mark the request on the registration form. Advance notice of three days to one week is appreciated.