Kids Library Home

Welcome to the Kids' Library!

Search for books, movies, music, magazines, and more.

Available items only
Print Material
Author Blum, Deborah, 1954- author.

Title The poison squad : one chemist's single-minded crusade for food safety at the turn of the twentieth century / Deborah Blum.

Publication Info. New York, New York : Penguin Press, c2019.


Location Call No. OPAC Message Status
 Eureka Non-Fiction  363.192 Blu    ---  Available
Description xxi, 330 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Note "Go Big Read 2019-2020. UW-Madison Common Reading Program"--Page 1 of cover. WU
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 295-319) and index.
Summary Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley set out to ensure food safety. He selected food tasters to test various food additives and preservatives, letting them know that the substances could be harmful or deadly. The tasters were recognized for their courage, and became known as the poison squad.
"By the end of the nineteenth century, food in America was increasingly dangerous--lethal, even. Milk and meat were routinely preserved with formaldehyde, a practice based on the embalming of corpses. Beer and wine were preserved with salicylic acid, a pharmaceutical chemical; canned vegetables were greened-up by copper sulphate, a toxic metallic salt; rancid butter was made edible with borax, best known as a cleaning product. This was not by accident; food manufacturers had rushed to embrace the rise of industrial chemistry and were knowingly selling harmful products. Unchecked by government regulation, basic safety, or even labelling requirements, they put profit before the health of their customers. By some estimates, in New York City alone, thousands of children were killed by adulterated and chemically 'improved' milk. Citizens--activists, journalists, scientists, and women's groups--began agitating for change. But although protective measures were enacted in Europe, American corporations blocked even modest regulations. Then in 1883, Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, a chemistry professor from Purdue University, was named chief chemist of the United States Department of Agriculture, and the agency began methodically investigating food and drink fraud, even conducting shocking human tests on groups of young men who came to be known as the Poison Squad. Over the next thirty years, a titanic struggle took place, with the courageous and inimitable Dr. Wiley campaigning tirelessly for food safety and consumer protection. Together with a gallant cast, including the muckraking author Upton Sinclair, who fought to reveal the horrific truth about the Chicago stockyards; Fannie Farmer, then the most famous cookbook author in the country; and Henry Heinz, one of the few food producers who actively advocated for pure food, Dr. Wiley changed history. When the landmark 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act was finally passed, it was known across the land as 'Dr. Wiley's Law.' Deborah Blum brings to life this timeless and hugely satisfying David and Goliath tale with righteous verve and style, driving home the moral imperative of confronting corporate greed and government corruption with a bracing clarity, which speaks resoundingly to the enormous social and political challenges we face today." -- From Jacket.
Contents "I wonder what's in it" -- Case of characters -- Introduction -- Part I -- A chemical wilderness -- Cheated, fooled, and bamboozled -- The beef court -- What's in it? -- Only the brave -- Lessons in food poisoning -- The yellow chemist -- The jungle -- Part II -- The poison trust -- Of ketchup and corn syrup -- Excuses for everything -- Of whiskey and soda -- The love microbe -- The adulteration snake -- The history of a crime -- Epilogue.
Subject Wiley, Harvey Washington, 1844-1930.
Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.
Farmer, Fannie Merritt, 1857-1915.
Heinz, H. J. (Henry John), 1844-1919.
United States. Bureau of Chemistry -- Officials and employees -- Biography.
United States. Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
Food inspectors -- United States -- Biography.
Chemists -- United States -- Biography.
Food additives -- Safety regulations -- United States -- History.
Food -- Safety measures -- Government policy -- United States.
Food -- Safety regulations -- United States.
Food law and legislation -- United States -- History.
Food adulteration and inspection -- United States -- History.
Consumer protection -- United States -- History.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1901-1909.
Food -- United States -- Safety measures -- Government policy.
Food -- Safety regulations -- United States.
POLITICAL SCIENCE -- Public Affairs & Administration.
POLITICAL SCIENCE -- Public Policy -- Agriculture & Food Policy.
SOCIAL SCIENCE -- Agriculture & Food.
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS -- Industries -- Food Industry.
Wiley, Harvey Washington, 1844-1930. (OCoLC)fst00202202
United States. Bureau of Chemistry. (OCoLC)fst00551046
Chemists. (OCoLC)fst00853570
Employees. (OCoLC)fst00909111
Food additives -- Safety regulations. (OCoLC)fst00930663
Food inspectors. (OCoLC)fst00930953
Food -- Safety regulations. (OCoLC)fst00930603
United States. (OCoLC)fst01204155
Genre/Form Biographies. (OCoLC)fst01919896
History. (OCoLC)fst01411628
Subject Additifs alimentaires -- histoire.
Approvisionnement en nourriture -- histoire.
Contro╠des aliments -- histoire.
Department of Agriculture (USA) -- histoire.
University of South Alabama
Genre/Form Biographies.
Subject Wiley, Harvey Washington, (1844-1930)
Added Author Go Big Read (Program) WU
Added Title One chemist's single-minded crusade for food safety at the turn of the twentieth century
Other Form: Online version: Blum, Deborah, 1954- Poison squad. New York : Penguin Press, 2018 9780525560289 (DLC) 2018014601
ISBN 9780143111122 (paperback)

Available items only