Food safety is a matter of intense public concern, and for good reason. Millions of annual cases of food “poisonings” raise alarm not only about the food served in restaurants and fast-food outlets but also about foods bought in supermarkets.
The introduction of genetically modified foods—immediately dubbed “Frankenfoods”—only adds to the general sense of unease. Finally, the events of September 11, 2001, heightened fears by exposing the vulnerability of food and water supplies to attacks by bioterrorists.
How concerned should we be about such problems? Who is responsible for preventing them? Who benefits from ignoring them? Who decides?
Marion Nestle, author of the critically acclaimed Food Politics, argues that ensuring safe food involves more than washing hands or cooking food to higher temperatures. It involves politics. When it comes to food safety, billions of dollars are at stake, and industry, government, and consumers collide over issues of values, economics, and political power—and not always in the public interest.
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