David Theno, food safety expert, dies in swimming accident

by Erica Shaffer
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 David Theno
Theno was swimming in Hawaii, when he was hit by a large wave.
LANAI, Hawaii – David Theno, “the man who saved Jack in the Box”, was pronounced dead after he was pulled from the ocean onto the beach fronting the Four Season Resort Lanai. The accident happened on June 20. Theno was 66.

Local news reports said Theno was swimming with his grandson, and as he was leaving the water, a large wave knocked him down. Bystanders helped carry him onto shore and attempted to resuscitate him. Firefighters arrived on the scene and continued CPR until paramedics arrived. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Theno is a founding partner in Gray Dog Partners, a leading food-safety consultancy based in Del Mar, California. Most recently, Theno served as an expert witness in Beef Products Inc.’s (BPI) $1.9 billion product defamation lawsuit against ABC News.

Before joining Gray Dog Partners, he served as senior vice president and Chief Product Safety Officer for Jack in the Box, where he is credited for setting new standards for food-safety management. He became “the man who saved Jack in the Box” for his work that revolutionized food safety across the chain’s entire meat-supply chain following the deaths of four children who ate Jack in the Box hamburgers that were adulterated by E. coli O157:H7. He developed a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP) plan for Jack in the Box and implemented finished product testing, a move that drew criticism from meat industry colleagues.

In fact, Theno installed the first HACCP program in an animal protein production plant in the mid-1980s while working at Foster Farms.

Theno holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology and science journalism from Iowa State Univ. He earned both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in food microbiology and animal sciences from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He also served as a contributing editor of MEAT+POULTRY.

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By Cecilia Moncada 6/22/2017 11:41:21 AM
I personally worked with Dr. Theno as he was our lead Consultant for Jensen Meat Company for numerous years. We are very sorry to hear this terrible news.

By Paul McFarland 6/21/2017 3:23:56 PM
Sorry to hear this. I first met Dave at Foster farms many years ago. He really did save Jack in the Box...