Books  Environmental Studies  Agriculture & Food 

When Food Kills: BSE, E Coli and Disaster Science

By: T Hugh Pennington

236 pages, B/w illus, 6 figs

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Sep 2003 | #149201 | ISBN: 0198525176
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £49.99 $66/€57 approx

About this book

Ever since Edwina Currie's salmonella, Britain has seemed cursed by major food safety scares, with E.coli and BSE particularly prominent. Amidst tabloid frenzy and recrimination, the public is dependent upon sober scientific risk assessment and rational evaluation of what went wrong. Hugh Pennington has been at the forefront of this as a scientist, expert witness and commentator, and this book is his accessible but rigorous account of these diseases and the events surrounding them.

Pennington writes with intimate knowledge not only of the science but also of regulations and committees ... Very well informed and wide-ranging. The Scientific and Medical Network Review ... a fascinating read, packed with wry observations of human social behaviour ... The book is informative and thought-provoking and I recommend it highly for any who might be under the spotlight next time there is a microbiological disaster - which there will be! MicroBiology Today ... he embraces the historical, legal and scientific aspects of his subject, though he is best when dealing with the political aspects ... a thought-provoking and in-depth look at a handful of relatively recent food scares in Britain - including the outbreak of E. coli 0157 and the emergence of variant CJD. M2 Best Books This book has a refreshing underlying belief in the possibility of progress. The Lancet Pennington's passionate commitment to the explanatory power of scientific understanding is the laudable central quality that gives this book undeniable importance and relevance. The Lancet Pennington has written a defence of science in the service of society that is as accessible to the general reader as it is timely and of great importance. The Lancet ... memorable examples of the human propensity to ignore danger signals until it is too late. Nature Consumers' interest in food is at an all time high ... However, there is also a great deal of misinformation in the general media. Hugh Pennington's reputation for independence and sound science will carry weight with the target audience. Dame Sheila McKechnie, Director, Consumers' Association Riveting is not a word to use lightly, in a review or anywhere else. But it is exactly the word for Professor Hugh Pennington's forensic filleting of cases. The Scotsman His careful, sleuth-like, and entertaining documentation of events shows that the two things that helped E-coli and BSE cause so much harm was " a failure to learn from history, and failure to understand science". Lancet Journal of Infectious Diseases Pennington's detailed reconstruction of the E.coli outbreak in Scotland in 1996 and the origins of BSE makes clear how much is at stake. It also makes an important contribution to the growing revisionist debate about whether eating infected meat is really the cause of BSE and vCJD. Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian


1. E.coli O157, Central Scotland 1996; 2. Why disasters happen; 3. Unlearned lessons; 4. The inspectors fail; 5. Inspectorates have limits; 6. E.coli O157; 7. Other E.coli; 8. CJD; 9. The science of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs); 10. BSE; 11. BSE - why things went wrong; 12. Variant CJD - the future; 13. The Precautionary Principle; 14. BSE, vCJD and E.coli. The aftermath; REFERENCES

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