Barbara Kowalcyk and her husband, Michael, were propelled into food safety advocacy in 2001, when their two-year-old son, Kevin, died after suffering an E. coli O157:H7 infection and hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Barbara served on the Board of Directors for S.T.O.P. (Safe Tables Our Priority) for several years, and recently formed the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI).

The Kowalcyks had limited knowledge of foodborne illness before their son got sick. The family lived in Wisconsin at the time. They now live in Loveland, Ohio, near Cincinnati.

“Our public health department didn’t have the resources or, frankly, the desire to spend a lot of time investigating our case because it wasn’t part of an outbreak,” Kowalcyk said. “They did very little to help us. We only found out what we did because we contacted an attorney and he worked on our case.