The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in our Food and Drugs

Calkins Creek. Oct. 2019. 160p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. websites. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781629794389.
Gr 5 Up–Candy made with arsenic, babies soothed by morphine, and milk preserved with formaldehyde. After hooking readers with these gut-wrenching accounts, Jarrow focuses on Harvey Wiley, whose tireless efforts during the early 20th century heavily contributed to the first food and drug regulations in the United States. His food additive experiments on 12 men nicknamed the Poison Squad rose to national attention. While people were learning of the dangers they were ingesting, the government resisted regulations that would hurt its relationship with big business. But after Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle was published, the government was swayed and the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 was born. The book recounts Wiley’s attempts to effect change through his government work and as a writer for Good Housekeeping, up until the end of his life. Jarrow then briefly discusses current food regulation. Examples of contaminated foods and toxic medications will awe readers, and photos and graphics depict the horrors.
VERDICT With detailed descriptions of revolting food-production standards and dangerously uncontrolled medications, Jarrow captivates readers with a history of food and drug regulation. Recommended for nonfiction readers and anyone interested in what they are eating.

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