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Jack in the Box food safety chief Theno to retire

SAN DIEGO Jack in the Box Inc. said David M. Theno, the quick-service company’s high-profile food safety chief, would retire on Sept. 28.

Theno’s duties as senior vice president and chief product safety officer will be split between Ann Marie McNamara, who recently joined the company as division vice president of food safety, and Derek Walker, who was hired in May as division vice president of research and development.

Theno joined the company in 1993 in the midst of a five-state E. coli outbreak that was traced to the concern’s namesake burger chain. Four people died and about 700 more were sickened in the contamination, which is still regarded as one of the worst food safety lapses in the industry’s history. Theno, a well-known food safety consultant at the time, was called in by Jack in the Box to allay the crisis and restore the chain’s reputation as a safe place to eat.

Theno’s efforts were hailed by the industry and consumer advocacy groups as a major step forward in safety, for the whole restaurant business as well as the Jack in the Box chain. He put in place one of the trade’s first Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans, or HACCP, now the universal defense against foodborne illness. His lasting contributions led to Theno’s selection in 2000 as Nation’s Restaurant News’ Innovator of the Year.

“Dave will leave behind a legacy that will persevere for years to come,” said Linda Lang, chairman and chief executive of Jack in the Box Inc. “His passion for ensuring food safety and unwavering commitment to quality assurance not only established Jack in the Box as a leader in those areas, but raised the bar on industry standards and helped create a much safer supply chain for others.”

McNamara joins the company from Silliker Inc., a food-testing company that also conducts safety audits. She also has served as director of microbiology for the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Before joining Jack in the Box, Walker was global vice president of research and development and quality management for Papa John’s International Inc., parent of the namesake pizza chain.

The Jack in the Box chain consists of 2,100 restaurants in 18 states. A sister brand, Qdoba Mexican Grill, has more than 400 branches in 40 states.

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