By: Elaine Landau
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2010
Few people would think that something as innocuous as peanut butter sandwich crackers would ever cause a serious illness, but in 2008 a Salmonella outbreak was linked directly to them. Salmonellosis is a serious infection that can kill, but is also an infection that can be prevented provided proper precautions are taken. Young Christopher of South Burlington, Vermont was fortunate that his life was spared, but others perished in that same “broad-scale Salmonella outbreak.” It’s an alarming, but true fact that “Peanut butter and peanut paste are low in water and high in fat, are an almost perfect medium to preserve Salmonella bacteria even when they are exposed to heat.” In this book you will learn what causes such outbreaks and what we can do in order to prevent them.
Of course “much of the answer lies in practicing good food hygiene” in order to prevent outbreaks, but you will also be able to read about an unusual case involving the “Salad Bar Terrorists” when 750 people became ill because of them. Food poisoning and foodborne diseases are nothing new and you’ll be able to take a look at many of these diseases and those people who tried to find out why they occurred and discovered ways of preventing some of them. For example, you’ll read about Hippocrates, the “founder of medicine,” Louis Pasteur, John Snow, and Dr. Carleton Gajdusek. These men and others strove to solve the mysteries of how and why people become ill. You’ll get to read about the medical sleuths who tracked down the infamous Mary Mellon, otherwise known as “Typhoid Mary,” who was a carrier who spread Typhoid when she handled food.
Can you imagine that “someone [can] get sick in the morning and be dead by nightfall?” Cholera is one such disease that will do just that. Of course “improved sanitation” goes a long way in preventing many diseases including both Cholera and Typhoid. In this book you’ll learn all about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and, more importantly, ways to prevent food poisoning and foodborne diseases. In addition to the more common and well known diseases and viruses you’ll read about listeriosis, campylobacter bacteria, botulism, staphylococcal food poisoning, clostridium perfringens (bacteria), crytosporidiosis (crypto), prions, and many different kinds of parasites that can invade the body through food. Did you know that Kuru, a disease directly related to cannibalistic practices, “can incubate for fifty years or longer?” Amazingly true!
This is a marvelous eye-opening overview of food poisoning and foodborne diseases we all could get. I was quite impressed with the depth and quality of the research and writing. The dramatic examples of people who came down with the illnesses were candid and it made for a very fascinating read. The microphotography for bacterium such as clostridium perfringens will give the young reader more insight into the actual disease causing organisms. Interspersed throughout the book are actual period USA Today articles discussing things such as outbreaks, recalls, and medical advances. There are numerous informative sidebars that lend much to the interest factor of the book. For example, there is an entire page on “Kuru and Cannibalism–the Inside Scoop.” There are also charts, graphs, and photographs. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a list of public health/food safety resources, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is an excellent book in which the young adult can not only learn about food poisoning and foodborne diseases, but also learn how they too can actively prevent getting or spreading them.