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A North Carolina 16-year-old caught a bit of the food safety spotlight shining on Washington D.C. Sept. 19, even though she wasn’t directly involved in the release of the revisions to the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed produce rule.
Dana Dziadul also got a bit of face time with FDA deputy commissioner Mike Taylor that day as he helped her launch her children’s book “Food Safety Superstar.” Dziadul’s 15-year-old classmate Emmi Lehto also helped with the launch and visited offices of members of Congress with Dziadul to discuss food safety issues.
Dziadul is a survivor of a salmonella infection she contracted at age 3 after eating contaminated cantaloupe. She spent weeks in the hospital but eventually recovered. Years later she found out she would be dealing with the effects of that infection for the rest of her life in the form of reactive arthritis.
“One of the things that is so crucial about what Dana and others who have been injured by foodborne illness bring to the table is the understanding that we’re not talking about stomach aches. We’re talking about life-changing illness in many cases,” Taylor said at the book launch. “It’s very important for the world to know that.”
Having become what Taylor described as a tireless advocate for food safety, Dziadul wrote a children’s book three years ago to teach kids about four basic principles. Publication of “Food Safety Superstar” was stalled for three years because Dziadul wanted to wait for illustrations from her friend Lehto.
The teens plan to make the book available to children for free to help other kids and families avoid contracting foodborne illnesses. It teaches four safety practices: washing hands, cleaning counters and tables, keeping cold foods and fresh foods cold, and making sure food is fully cooked before eating it.