Two award-winning health writers from the Denver Post have written Eating Dangerously, to be published by Rowman & Littlefield next month. The publishers graciously provided me with a review copy. Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown are beat reporters in one of a handful of states that seems to have more than its share of foodborne illness stories. They’ve teamed up to write a book to help consumers deal with food safety issues in today’s world. Booth and Brown have taken a very practical approach to the topic. This book gets to a “sweet spot” about food safety that we often dance around. People stricken with sickness and death from the food they eat are not responsible. We shouldn’t blame the victim. But, at the same time, we are at all the end of our own food safety line. In Eating Dangerously: Why the Government Can’t Keep Your Food Safe…and How You Can, Booth and Brown share what they’ve learned that every consumer should know, as each of us is our own last line defense when it comes to food safety. The authors don’t mince their words. “Don’t eat pink hamburgers,” they write. “The manure staining a cow’s hide sometimes ends up on the outside of the meat during slaughter, and when beef is ground into hamburger, that fecal matter can end up in the burger.” The next time that casual restaurant server asks you how you want that hamburger, you will be more likely to respond by saying, “No pink,” if you’ve read Eating Dangerously. And that’s a good thing. In addition to going through all the other problematic foods — such as sprouts, ground turkey, shellfish, pork, raw milk and others — the authors take on politically touchy topics such as genetically modified organisms and radiation. They show how name-calling and politics often trump mere science in these matters. Growing salmon genetically bigger than wild salmon is an idea that Alaskan politicians will never embrace. And they take on reality when it comes to both the local food movement and eating organic. Anyone who thinks that eating organic or eating local food is a way to avoid foodborne illnesses just has not been paying attention. Eating Dangerously shows how large, non-local and non-organic with better pathogen eradication often produces safer food than small, local and organic. In addition to breaking down the foods and the dangers, Booth and Brown get down and dirty with the foodborne illnesses themselves, pointing out that, “There is no such thing as stomach flu.” But there are some nasty viruses and bacteria that get served with food. When your diarrhea comes with adjectives such as “explosive” and “bloody,” chances are you are suffering from foodborne illness. But E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and the rest all come with their own peculiar impacts and difficulties, and the reporters take the reader through them in a straightforward and understandable way. Finally, in their two appendices, Booth and Brown get down to some “dos and don’ts” with pointers such as using separate reusable shopping bags for meat and produce to avoid potentially dangerous cross-contamination. These two reporters did an outstanding job covering one of the deadliest outbreaks of foodborne illness in American history. It occurred during the summer of 2011 when always-popular Colorado-raised cantaloupe were distributed to consumers in two dozen states through the big supermarket chains, including Walmart and Kroger-owned King Soopers. As it turned out, the crop was contaminated with deadly Listeria bacteria known for its high fatality rate, usually striking pregnant women and the elderly. That outbreak involving sweet, ripe and in-season cantaloupe ended up officially killing 33 people, with another 10 related deaths coming after the government’s final report. Eating Dangerously is a well-sourced book, and we say that not just because our publisher, food safety attorney Bill Marler, and Food Safety News are both cited multiple times, but because of all the other knowledgeable sources our colleagues used in putting together this excellent book.

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (March 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442222662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442222663