From Publishers Weekly
In this unexpectedly timely account, Satin makes a case for how food poisoning has affected human events over time, although he acknowledges that there's not much scientific evidence for his theories. Still, his speculations are fascinating. Satin, a molecular biologist who has worked for many years in the food industry (Food Alert! The Ultimate Sourcebook for Food Safety
), relates dramatic examples of possibly toxic food and drink. He considers various theories to explain what he says is a case of mass food poisoning in the Bible, when the Israelites in the desert died after eating quail. The epidemic of lead poisoning during the Roman Empire was due to the preparation of wine in lead-lined containers and, according to the author, contributed to Rome's downfall. Leapfrogging through time, Satin describes how Westerners living in Hong Kong were deliberately poisoned with arsenic in their bread during the Second Opium War in 1857. Of particular interest is a lengthy overview of the evolution of food and beverage standards in the U.S.; first established in the late 19th century, the rules stopped the practice of harmful adulteration by unscrupulous manufacturers. He also deals with the recent outbreaks of E. coli
and the possibility of bioterrorism. Though the account rambles, many of the details are quite arresting. Illus. (Aug.)
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"In this unexpectedly timely account, Satin makes a case for how food poisoning has affected human events over time....[H]is speculations are fascinating....[M]any of the details are quite arresting."
"Satin provides a fascinating account of how food and wine toxicity changed the course of history. This is a spellbinding read for anyone interested in food, wine, science, or history."
CHRISTINE M. BRUHN, PhD
Director, Center for Consumer Research
Department of Food Science and Technology
University of California, Davis
"Death in the Pot delivers equal portions of wit and wisdom in an entertaining and informative cautionary history. Morton Satin’s examples span pre-historic times to the latest headlines and remind us of our intimate connection with the food that we eat and its potential to deliver our own destruction. Food poisoning is a topic that could easily become grim, but Death in the Pot is inoculated with enough humor to make it all very readable."
CHRIS FINDLAY, PhD
Councilor of the Institute of Food Technologists
Consultant to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization