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Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat

30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0983347804
ISBN-10: 0983347808
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Editorial Reviews


"A fast-paced narrative and a cautionary tale about how public health policy, corporate practices and public relations, and lawyers' chutzpah and frenzy for fees can converge in a place we all know well."
--Associated Press

"A new, thriller-style account of the horrors of that E. coli outbreak and the subsequent events, including the groundbreaking rulings making O157:H7 an "adulterant".
--Mark Bittman, The New York Times

"Spartan prose delivers a chilling, page-turning lesson in food safety." --Kirkus Reviews

"Movie-like ...Benedict does a dramatic public service by showing us what happened behind the scenes."
--Christian Science Monitor

"Part thriller, part investigative expose, and all human, "Poisoned" lays out in rich, untold detail the tragic yet ultimately inspiring story behind the largest deadly E. coli outbreak in history."
--Armen Keteyian, CBS News

About the Author

Jeff Benedict is an award-winning writer and is considered one of America s top investigative journalists. He has published nine critically acclaimed books, including Little Pink House, Without Reservation, Pros and Cons, Out of Bounds, and The Mormon Way of Doing Business. He is a columnist and feature writer for and a contributor to Sports Illustrated. His essays and articles have also appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and the Hartford Courant. His stories have been the basis of a documentary on the Discovery Channel, as well as segments on 60 Minutes, 20/20, Dateline, and HBO s Real Sports. He is a frequent guest on network news programs and cable television talk shows, as well as a popular public speaker. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University, where he teaches Writing and Mass Media, a course he designed.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Inspire Books (May 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983347808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983347804
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Benedict published his first book - Public Heroes, Private Felons: Athletes and Crimes Against Women - during his first year of law school in 1997. At the time he was interning in the District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit in Boston and planning on becoming a prosecutor. By the time he earned his law degree in 2000, he had published three more books: Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL (Warner Books, 1998); Athletes and Acquaintance Rape (Sage Publications, 1998); and Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino (HarperCollins, 2000). By then he'd decided to be a writer instead of a lawyer.

His books on athletes and crime established him as the national expert on the subject. Plus, he was the lead researcher on two groundbreaking studies conducted at Northeastern University - one on student-athletes and violence against women and one on arrest and conviction rates for athletes. In addition to being a regular analyst on network and cable news programs, Benedict served as an expert witness on behalf of rape and domestic violence victims; consulted for law firms representing victims of violence committed by athletes; and frequently appeared as a keynote speaker for women's groups, victim advocacy organizations and law enforcement conferences.

But his revelatory book on the world's largest Indian casino took him in another direction. Without Reservation questioned the legitimacy of the country's most powerful Indian tribe, prompting calls for a Congressional investigation and contributing to the defeat of a 20-year member of Congress that had helped the tribe obtain federal recognition. Benedict's book became the subject of a 60 Minutes segment and the author went on to run for Congress in the district where the tribe and its casino - Foxwoods - are located. His platform was built on reigning in the casino industry. Talk about controversy! Despite earning the support of the Wall Street Journal, Benedict fell short of capturing the Democratic nomination.

But he didn't mind. He just forged ahead and formed the nation's first statewide non-profit corporation dedicated to stopping casino expansion. As president of The Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion, he partnered with Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and led the lobbying effort to pass landmark legislation outlawing new casinos in Connecticut. In 2004 Benedict testified against Donald Trump and other casino moguls before the House Committee on Government Reform as part a congressional investigation into the undue influence of money and lobbyists on the tribal recognition process.

At the same time, Benedict kept writing. In 2005 he conducted a six-month investigation into the negative social and economic impacts of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods - currently the two largest casinos in the world - and published his findings in a 2-part series in the Hartford Courant: Raw Deal and Losing Hand. He also testified before the Massachusetts legislature and the Philadelphia City Council in opposition to proposals to embrace casino gambling as an economic stimulus. He served as an advisor to municipalities and grassroots organizations throughout the country. The press dubbed him 'Consultant to the Stars' after he was hired to help David Crosby, Bo Derek, Elton John's longtime songwriter Bernie Taupin and others oppose plans to expand the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. He and Crosby also lobbied the U.S. Senate's Indian Affairs Committee.

Benedict has written five other highly acclaimed books on a wide range of topics. His book No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons (HarperCollins, 2003) was the basis of a Discovery Channel documentary and was the subject of ABC News 20/20 segment. On the heels of Kobe Bryant's arrest on rape charges in Colorado, Benedict published Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime (HarperCollins, 2004), which was the basis of a 2-part special on ABC News 20/20 also titled 'Out of Bounds.' During pre-trial proceedings in the Kobe Bryant case, Benedict got access to sealed court documents and medical records that became the basis of three stories he wrote about the case for Sports Illustrated. After Bryant's case was dismissed, Benedict wrote a short series on Bryant for the Los Angeles Times, including an award-winning feature story that revealed why the case against Bryant fell apart.

In 2007 Benedict published The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America (Warner Business Books). It was based on interviews with the CEOs at JetBlue, Madison Square Garden, Dell, and Deloitte & Touche, along with the CFO of American Express and the dean of Harvard Business School. Benedict also wrote and co-produced his first television documentary based on the book. It aired on BYU-TV and on the PBS and CBS affiliates in Utah. He filmed commercials with Glenn Beck to promote the short film. After the release of the book and the film, Benedict teamed up with the executive he had profiled for a series of forums at Yale, Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, and Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business.

The following year Benedict was commissioned to write a book on a company that Warren Buffett purchased for $200 million. A few years later it was worth over $1 billion. How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy: The RC Willey Story (Shadow Mountain) was released in 2009. Buffett wrote the book's foreword. Also in 2009, Benedict released Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central Publishing). He spent three years chronicling the eminent domain battle in Kelo v. New London, considered the most controversial Supreme Court decision since Roe v. Wade. The book received universal praise: "a fascinating narrative" (New York Times Book Review); "an absorbing read" (Wall Street Journal); and "a mind-blowing story" (NPR's Diane Rehm). Following the book's release, Benedict spent a year traveling the country with plaintiff Susette Kelo, talking to Americans about property rights.

Today Benedict is a regular contributor for and a Distinguished Professor of English at Southern Virginia University, where he teaches a seminar called Writing and Mass Media, along with a course on current affairs. He is a frequent public speaker on athletes and crime, Indian gaming, eminent domain, and leadership and ethics in business. His forthcoming book chronicles the making of the world's #1 foodborne illness lawyer Bill Marler, who rose to prominence while representing children poisoned in America's largest E. coli outbreak. Benedict has begun working on a new book that he's been privately commissioned to write about an Islamic fundamentalist who converts to Christianity and is imprisoned as an infidel.
Jeff Benedict was born in 1966 in New London, Connecticut. He has a Bachelor's in History from Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master's in Political Science from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law. He previously practiced law in Connecticut, where he has spent most of his life. He currently lives in Virginia on a Civil War-era farm with his wife and best friend Lydia Benedict and their four children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Danielle R. Smith on May 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have read most of the books written by Jeff Benedict. I have found them all to be engaging. I confess, however, that Poisoned was the best yet. As a lawyer, law professor, former law school dean, and college president, I would recommend this book to any person considering law school and to all who care about issues related to our consumption of mass produced food products. I will never see a hamburger in quite the same way after having read this wonderful book. It is a captivating story, told ever so well and with balance, about a case that had an enormous impact on life and law.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chandler #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A short stroll down any grocery store will show you how our nation has changed its thinking of food in the last decade.

Where only price tags used to be shown on shelves or products, now you see labels such as "organic", "vegetarian", "gluten-free", "vegan", "lactose-free" etc.

But few look back as to the catalysts that changed the way we think about how what we eat can affect us long-term.

This book is about one of those catalysts.

Although it reads like a story of a court case and victims and all the things you might get in some fiction best-seller, it's actually fact and based upon an amazing amount of research by the author as he put himself right into the scene and in personal contact with all those who were part of the events in 1993 stemming from poor food practices by Jack In The Box that led some pretty dramatic events.

In 1992 Jack In The Box was one of the top fast food chains. Parents didn't think of fast food quite the same as they do additives and preservatives were also not on the forefront of discussion in supermarkets and there was an astonishing lower amount of vegans and vegetarians and all-natural groceries when compared with today's numbers although the movement was on the rise. (This book isn't about vegetarians or meat since you can get E Coli from veggies as well. But what happened did create a sharp rise in the movement and help it gain momentum.)

In 1992 a Seattle child bit into a meal that changed her family's life forever from a Jack In The Box bag. 750 other people were determiined poisoned shortly thereafter from the same cause. 4 died.

A deadly strain of E Coli bacteria that spread through undercooked meat.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pat Rowley on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I generally don't read a lot of non-fiction but the subject matter was something I was pretty familiar with due to my laboratory background. The story held my interest from the first page. The fact that it was a true story and I was living in San Diego when the first case was identified was also a factor in reading the book. Jeff put a great amount of time and research into this book and it shows. Everyone should read it and learn to be more aware of where their food is coming from and how it is being processed.I know I will!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Desert Travel on June 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sadly, I am NOT a reader and for me to finish 20 pages of anything is a miracle.

I finished Poisoned last night.

I was flying through the book at 50 pages a session. I could not put it down last night ... and sailed through the last 100 pages.

I kept wanting to get to the next page to see what happened next !

Truly, an excellent and captivating book.

Mark Johnson
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By acwhipple on May 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am a John Grisham fan, but 'Poisoned' is the best legal thriller I have read. It is an absolute page-turner, making sleep a burden the night I started it. It is also my favorite work of non-fiction, because it truly caused a change in me. Because of this book, my wife and I have decided to support farmers markets and local businesses. This is the emotional story of the children hurt in the e.coli breakout. It is the courageous story of a young, defiant lawyer. And it is an invitation to America to be smarter and healthier. I look forward to reading more from Benedict. -Adam-
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By slobah on June 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book starts out interestingly enough with the traceback of the illnesses to burgers from Jack in the Box, and the emergence of E. coli O157:H7 as a dangerous strain, but it soon dissolves into The Bill Marler Story. This would have been much more compelling if the author had examined more closely the aftermath of the outbreak for the victims, or how it changed food policy and regulation (there is zero mention--even in the afterword--about how USDA declared O157:H7 an adulterant as a result of this outbreak, which was a monumental shift for a food intended to be cooked before eating). The book focuses far too much on Marler's personal life and how the case made him professionally, and reeks of thinly-veiled promotion for his firm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MS FACS teacher on July 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I haven't read a book in 24 hours in a long time - but I couldn't put this one down. I teach middle school home ec (FACS) and plan on using the information in this book to bring home the dangers of not knowing where your food comes from, the need to cook your food properly and what you can do to promote positive change in the law by learning about and using the law appropriately. The book is an inspiration!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
21 years ago my 4 year old son, 6 year old daughter and I were all affected by the E-Coli outbreak in Washington. While my son and I recovered after several days of extreme illness my 6 year old daughter did not. She continued to progressively get worse. We were some of the early cases so it hadn't hit the news yet. When my daughter was admitted to the hospital the doctors told us she should have been at the very least comatose if not dead. How does a parent react to that? We had been taking her to the doctors for 2 weeks. While they told us they would do everything they could to save her we knew they were preparing us for her to die. No one expected her to live. She suffered acute kidney failure, HUS and later a stroke. The only chance they had of saving her was to do dialysis twice in the first 24 hours. It was dangerous but our only option at that time.

We spent our time at Children's Hospital in the room across the hall from Brianne Kiner (whose story is told in the book). It was a difficult time for all of us.

While Jeff's book brought back a flood of memories from that time it also brought about a healing that I hadn't realized I needed. I was fascinated as I read his book and learned about the "other side" of the story. His book was very personal to me. I recognized the names and people in the book as we had also connected with so many of them.

I'm grateful to Jeff for taking the time to research this event and tell the story. For those of us who lived through the event and were personally affected by it, this book provides a new level of healing for us.

My daughter did survive. The doctors could not explain her recovery. By all medical standards she should have died. Her healing was truly a miracle.

My thanks go out to Jeff for helping to heal my heart in new ways.
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