A new edition of “Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat” by Jeff Benedict has been shipped to distributors by book publishers Thomson-Shore.
In the new edition, Benedict catches up with America’s best-known food safety lawyer in South Africa where the world’s largest ever listeriosis outbreak was underway with eerie parallels to America’s 1993 E. coli outbreak, which “Poisoned”explores in detail.
Twenty-five years after that game-changing E. coli O157: H7 outbreak, Benedict finds food safety lawyer Bill Marler older and grayer, but still going from one food safety crisis to another. And South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak is the worst of its kind ever, according to the World Health Organization.
The new edition of “Poisoned” is the first since the original hardback came out in 2011, followed by the paperback in 2014. Its release comes as Benedict, one of America’s top nonfiction writers, finds his book, “Tiger Woods,” riding atop the New York Times Best Seller list.
In the new second edition of “Poisoned,” he reports on Marler teaming up with South African human rights lawyer Richard Spoor to seek justice for more than 1,000 Listeria victims, including the more than 200 that died. “Nearly half of the victims were newborns that had been infected during gestation,” Benedict reports.
Benedict took some time out of one of his increasingly busy days to answer a few questions from Food Safety News (FSN). Here’s what we learned:
FSN: Jeff, we did not know just how busy you’ve been. Congratulations sir, on your new book, “Tiger Woods.” It’s a No. 1 New York Times bestseller with stunning reviews. How does that feel?
JB: “It was a privilege to write the biography of the world’s greatest golfer. Tiger is a Shakespearian figure whose popularity transcends sport. The great thing is that his comeback is a triumphant tale that has captured the attention of the world.”
FSN: About half of your books involve the world of sports. In addition to golf, you’ve authored serious works about college and pro football, the NBA, Indian gaming, and domestic violence involving athletes. How do you follow so many sports and still get anything done?
JB: “It’s not so much about following so many sports. When I write a book, I do full immersion into the subject matter, whether it’s a biography about a famous athlete or an exposé on a phony Indian tribe that built the world’s largest casino. Once I’m into a book, I pretty much block out everything else.”
FSN: You also made famous action on the Supreme Court with “Little Pink House,” the takings case out of New London, CT. Your book was made into a movie that was in theaters earlier this year. What was your role in that?
JB: “I was an executive producer on the film, which starred Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn. One of my responsibilities was to persuade David Crosby to compose an original theme song, which turned out to be one of my favorite aspects of working on the film.”
FSN: In returning to “Poisoned” to write for the new edition, were you surprised to find so many instances of foodborne illness still occurring 25 years after the events your first wrote about?
JB: “Not really. What’s interesting is the diversity of foods that are now responsible for E. coli outbreaks. When the Jack in the Box outbreak, which is the subject of “Poisoned,” happened 25 years ago, E. coli poisoning was traced to contaminated ground beef. That used to be the norm. Now E. coli is found in leafy greens and other foods. It shows, in part, how complex our food system has become.”
FSN: Poisoned is a must read for anyone in the food safety community and many will likely want to read the updated version. Beyond this professional community, do you know who makes up the audience for a book like “Poisoned” with it’s behind the scenes look at food safety?
JB “I chose a narrative style that I thought would appeal to parents, especially mothers. I also tried to write the story in a cinematic way. It’s a very visual story. And I remain hopeful that one day it will find its way to the screen.
FSN: Jeff, you’ve been highly productive as an author and producer during the past decade and longer. What’s next for you?
JB: “The biography of LeBron James.”
Editor’s notes: Jeff Benedict is licensed to practice law in Connecticut. He’s a distinguished professor of writing and mass media at Southern Virginia University. He is represented by Richard Pine at InkWell Management in New York City.
Attorney Bill Marler is the publisher of Food Safety News.
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