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Food safety is a matter of intense public concern, and for good reason. Millions of annual cases of food "poisonings" raise alarm not only about the food served in restaurants and fast-food outlets but also about foods bought in supermarkets. The introduction of genetically modified foods – immediately dubbed "Frankenfoods" – only adds to the general sense of unease. Finally, the events of September 11, 2001, heightened fears by exposing the vulnerability of food and water supplies to attacks by bioterrorists. How concerned should we be about such problems? Who is responsible for preventing them? Who benefits from ignoring them? Who decides?
Marion Nestle, author of the critically acclaimed Food Politics, argues that ensuring safe food involves more than washing hands or cooking food to higher temperatures. It involves politics. When it comes to food safety, billions of dollars are at stake, and industry, government, and consumers collide over issues of values, economics, and political power – and not always in the public interest. Although the debates may appear to be about science, Nestle maintains that they really are about control: Who decides when a food is safe?
She demonstrates how powerful food industries oppose safety regulations, deny accountability, and blame consumers when something goes wrong, and how century-old laws for ensuring food safety no longer protect our food supply. Accessible, informed, and even-handed, Safe Food is for anyone who cares how food is produced and wants to know more about the real issues underlying today's headlines.
Introduction: Food Safety is Political
PART ONE: RESISTING FOOD SAFETY
1. The Politics of Foodborne Illness: Issues and Origins
2. Resisting Meat and Poultry Regulation. 1974-1994
3. Attempting to Control Food Pathogens, 1994-2002
4. Achieving Safe Food: Alternatives
PART TWO: SAFETY AS A SURROGATE: THE IRONIC POLITICS OF FOOD BIOTECHNOLOGY
5. Peddling Dreams: Promises versus Reality
6. Risks and Benefits: Who Decides?
7. The Politics of Government Oversight
8. The Politics of Consumer Concern: Distrust, Dread, and Outrage
Conclusion: The Future of Food Safety: Public versus Bioterrorism
Appendix: The Science of Plant Biotechnology
Marion Nestle is Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, and director of public health initiatives. She is the author of the prize-winning Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (California, 2002) and Nutrition in Clinical Practice (1985). She is also coeditor (with L. Beth Dixon) of Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Nutrition and Food
"Nestle clearly explains the intersection between policy, politics, and the plate, delivering practical advice on every corner of the grocery store [...] She speaks her mind, always backing it with solid evidence."
– Christian Science Monitor
"Safe Food deserves to be read by anyone interested in cultivating a more informed and discriminating basis on which to decide how much trust to place in those who provide us with the food we eat."
– Irish Times
"The analysis is a welcome addition to the food governance literature in which it is likely, with its sister volume, to become a classic."
– Tim Lang, Times Higher Ed Supplement (Thes)
"This important book is required reading for everybody interested in food and how it is produced [...] It is written with the weight of science behind it and has general lessons about the importance of understanding that food safety must be everybody's concern."
– Sunday Tribune
"This is an important book that is skillfully written and well referenced. It is a great read and belongs comfortably on the bookshelf of anyone interested in today's key food issues."
– Morton Satin, Nature Medicine
"As an insider in federal agencies responsible for food safety, as well as a nutrition adviser for the likes of the American Cancer Society, Nestle lets us in on conversations we'd never otherwise hear. What we learn may be more than we can stomach [...] Safe Food weighs in on all the hot topics."
– San Francisco Chronicle
"Provocative and consumer-friendly."
– Saveur Magazine
"A damning critique of how state and federal agencies and food companies are doing their jobs."
– Michael R. Taylor, American Scientist
"An excellent analysis of the shortcomings of the science-based approach to food."
– Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian
"Marion Nestle speaks in a voice that is by turns that of a consumer advocate and a scientist."
– Boston Globe
"Marion Nestle's compelling and accessible book explains what the industrialization of the food supply in this country has done to both the taste and safety of the foods we eat."
– Alice Waters
"Marion Nestle has emerged as one of the sanest, most knowledgeable, and independent voices in the current debate over the health and safety of the American food system. All of us who eat should count ourselves lucky to have this indispensable book."
– Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World