Book Review Of “Poisoned: The True Story Of The E. Coli Outbreak That Changed The Way Americans Eat”

Poisoned Book Cover.jpgI’ve been wanting to read Jeff Benedict’s “Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed The Way Americans Eat,” since I heard Benedict interviewed on this RadioBoston episode on the E. Coli outbreak in Germany.
Monday’s New York Times carried a review of “Poisoned” by Dr. Abigail Zuber that got me truly amped up to read a copy. From hearing Benedict interviewed, I labored under the misimpression that “Poisoned” was a book about public health, about the food industry and the science of food poisoning.
As Zuber’s review highlights, however, “Poisoned” is actually a real life legal thriller in the mold of Jonathan Harr’s “A Civil Action.”
“Poisoned” focuses on the infamous Jack-in-the-Box E. Coli O157:H7 outbreak that killed four children and injured hundred of others in Western states in 1993.
As Zuber writes, the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak led to a “David and Goliath” battle between Jack-in-the-Box and the poisoned customers. The legal struggle pitted Bill Marler (then, according to Zuber, “a financially struggling young lawyer who, through a series of happenstances came to represent Seattle’s most damaged victim”) against Bill Piper, an “established Seattle lawyer,” who wore suspenders with pictures of nude women on them (!) and who was known to be “devastatingly effective in court.”
You may already know the post-script: Marler won a $15.6 million dollar jury verdict on behalf of client and the entire food service industry overhauled its food-preparation protocols.
I just went to and ordered my own copy of “Poisoned.” I hope to have my own review soon.

This blog in maintained by the Boston foodborne illness & contamination lawyers at The Law Office of Alan H. Crede, P.C.