Surely, we would feel better if we knew that food companies were doing everything possible to minimize food hazards, and that the government was looking out for our interests and making sure food companies were doing what they were supposed to. In the absence of such reassurance, we lose trust.
— Marion Nestle, Safe Food
The politics of your plate is one of Marion Nestle’s favorite
subjects. Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University,
is the author of last year’s Food Politics: How the
Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. In her
newest book, Safe Food, she takes on the long
and often shameful history of food safety in the United States.
Nestle shows how corporate consolidation within the food
industry has made contamination both more likely and more deadly;
describes how federal food-safety regulations became scattered
among disparate agencies; and documents the beef industry’s
dogged — and largely successful — resistance to tougher
federal oversight. Nestle then links this background to the newer
debate over genetically modified food crops. Here, too, murky
federal regulation and industry stubbornness characterize the
controversy, while public “dread and outrage” has
reached new heights. The conclusion of Safe Food takes a brief,
post-September 11 look at the risks of food bioterrorism.
Nestle is by no means an impartial observer: On the book’s
clever cover, a parody of a food label, the phrase “You Eat
What We Tell You To Eat” is hidden in an imitation UPC
symbol. Yet Nestle’s careful documentation and willingness to
consider all sides make Safe Food a convincing piece of work.
Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology and
By Marion Nestle
pages, hardcover: $27.50.
University of California Press,
Look before you eat
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