Safe food and water is a basic human right.  Since 2006, CFI has worked every day to ensure that right for all consumers.  CFI’s efforts to increase awareness, promote food safety research and implement science-based, risk-informed policies across the food safety system have made a difference.  Today, CFI is an influential non-governmental organization (NGO) in the food safety community.  We are proud of how much we have accomplished on a very limited budget.




• Barbara Kowalcyk, CFI’s CEO, was a co-author of the 2010 National Academies of Science report Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration, which served as a blueprint for FDA reform in FSMA.

• CFI has provided scientific advice and recommendations to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services on issues related to food safety by serving on several national advisory committees, including the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI), CDC’s FSMA Surveillance Working Group and the FDA Science Board.

• CFI leadership has been active in several coalitions and initiatives, including: Alliance For a Stronger FDA, Coalition For Sensible Safeguards, Make Our Food Safe Coalition, Safe Food Coalition, Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR), and The Pew Charitable Trusts Collaborative Food Safety Forum.


Advancing Science


• In 2009, CFI collaborated with medical experts to release a scientific white paper on the long-term health outcomes associated with foodborne disease.  The paper highlights the gaps in research and the need for improved surveillance and data sharing.

• In 2010, CFI received FDA funding to continue its research on the long-term health outcomes associated with foodborne disease. Overseen by a committee of scientific experts, the project examined the feasibility of tracking these long-term outcomes.

• In 2011, CFI convened experts for a two-day workshop on the long-term health outcomes of foodborne illness. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor keynoted the conference. Our work has implications for federal policies and research funding.

• In 2011, CFI collaborated with the University of Minnesota to assess stakeholder information needs around Foot and Mouth Disease. Consumers, academia, NGO representatives, and federal, state, and local government officials participated in a mock outbreak scenario and provided feedback that will inform USDA crisis communication strategies.

• CFI provided financial support and research opportunities to seven graduate students and hosted an undergraduate summer intern.

• CFI is currently researching challenges and solutions for tracking microbes using next generation technologies. CFI is participating in conversations about the impact of increased use of culture-independent diagnostic tests on foodborne illness surveillance systems and disease cluster detection on a global scale.  Barbara Kowalcyk’s white paper on this issue will be published by Pew Charitable Trusts in 2013.


Science-Based Advocacy


• CFI worked to secure an agreement that reversed a 10-year-old data-sharing problem between three federal agencies. Thanks to this agreement, USDA/ARS can more easily share the PFGE patterns obtained from Salmonella isolates collected through regulatory testing with human disease experts at HHS/CDC’s PulseNet.

• CFI advocated for:

- restoring food safety objectives in Healthy People 2020, the nation’s decade –long agenda for improving public health;

- improving regulatory microbial testing programs and labeling regulations;

- the use of appropriate metrics in evaluating food safety programs.

• CFI played a critical role in the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (FSMA), the first major reform of food safety oversight at FDA in decades.  CFI continues its work with consumer coalitions on the implementation of FSMA, attending regular meetings with regulatory officials and providing written comments on proposed rules.

• From 2009 - 2013, CFI led a successful effort to secure USDA-required labeling for mechanically tenderized beef products. Read CFI comments here.

• CFI has met with numerous Senators, Representatives and staff in an effort to improve the food safety system. In every phone call, e-mail or in-person meeting, CFI provided information to help decision-makers make policy choices based on the best available science.


Increasing Awareness


• CFI has raised awareness about the impact of foodborne illness and the importance of a shared commitment to food safety among all stakeholders.  CFI leadership has presented at numerous conferences, including CDC’s Annual PulseNet/OutbreakNet Meeting, the 2010 Food Safety Education Conference, the 2011 Global Food Safety Initiative Annual Conference, and the 2011 International Association for Food Protection.

• CFI and Pew Charitable Trusts developed a fact sheet, Children and Foodborne Illness that was endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and highlights the impact foodborne disease has on children.

• Recognizing the importance of risk communication, CFI provided advice on the development of USDA/Ad Council’s campaign, Food Safe Families, by serving on their expert committee. CFI also provided input on the development of a national food safety education plan by serving on the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Scientific Panel and Steering Committee.

• CFI revamped its web site and increased its social media outreach to engage the public in lively, informed conversations on food safety. CFI blogs at The Huffington Post, Food Safety News and MomsRising.

• To improve risk communication, CFI is partnering with CDC to expand educational outreach to consumers and key stakeholder groups. Projects in 2013 will focus on amplifying existing materials and developing and updating materials to fill information gaps.


Shifting the Paradigm


• CFI co-founders, Barbara Kowalcyk and Patricia Buck, were featured in the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary, Food, Inc., sparking a national discussion on the safety and sustainability of our food supply.

• CFI drew international attention to foodborne disease when Barbara Kowalcyk received the 2010 LennonOno Grant for Peace and advocated for a holistic One Health approach that integrates human, animal and environmental health.

• CFI’s efforts to change the debate in food safety were recognized when Barbara Kowalcyk was voted the 2010 Ultimate Game Changer in Food by Huffington Post readers.


•  2008-2011 Progress Report