Barbara Young, editor-in-chief, reports from the NMA's MeatXpo '09 in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS – Sunday night was Oscar night in Hollywood. A segment of the U.S. meat industry hosted its own awards program the same night at a gala affair to recognize individual achievements of two industry veterans – Bo Reagan and Dave Theno.
The well-attended reception came at the end of the first day of the National Meat Association’s (NMA) MeatXpo ’09 Suppliers’ Exposition and 63rd Annual Convention, which ends Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Theno was cited with a special award for “his outstanding service to the meat industry,” especially the leadership he provided in shepherding Jack in the Box (JIB) from the dark days it encountered brought on by the devastating foodborne outbreak that hit the Pacific Northwest in 1993.
“The beef industry came under fire because of E. coli O157:H7 in fast-food hamburgers,” Dave Wimmer, NMA president, recalled. “[Theno] took his superb make-it-happen and do-it-right skills to [Jack in the Box] and reversed its downward spiral. He reached back up the beef system – through his rigid controls and demanding testing protocols – to do everything possible to ensure that the ground beef Jack in the Box used was the safest possible.”
Theno, now retired, was senior vice president, quality and logistics at Jack in the Box. A veterinarian, he held various meat-industry positions including operating his own agribusiness-consulting firm, before joining the fast-food company.
Bo Reagan was a soldier in the 1993 germ warfare battles against the deadly O157:H7 pathogenic strain.
“[Reagan] is the grandfather of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, which is considered a model program even by industry critics,” said Jim Maxey, NMA board chairman.
Reagan also served as the staff coordinator for the industry’s Blue Ribbon Task Force charged with developing an industry blueprint for addressing issues associated with E. coli O157:H7.
“He joined [the now defunct] National Livestock & Meat Board as director of research just in time to work with the industry in the never-to-be forgotten challenges of 1993,” Maxey said. “Following the merging of the Meat Board with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, he headed the strong research program that resulted in numerous significant contributions to the beef industry in areas including beef quality, customer satisfaction, beef safety and cattle genomics.”
A non-profit industry association headquartered in Oakland, Calif., NMA, formerly Western States Meat Association, started in 1995.
To listen to Barbara Young's exclusive, three-part Q&A with Dave Theno, conducted last fall, click on the below links, or head to our Podcasts page and scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will find the archived casts.