What We Are Reading Today: The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum

Updated 27 October 2018

What We Are Reading Today: The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum

  • Blum’s book, The Poison Squad, is an intense historical narrative about the fight to regulate food in the US
  • The book is packed with political scandals and stories about awful historical practices

Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author.

Blum’s book, The Poison Squad, is an intense historical narrative about the fight to regulate food in the US. 

The book follows the career of Dr. Harvey Wiley, a tireless proponent of legislation to keep food safe for consumers. 

His chemical work and political advocacy helped bring about the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and government regulation that helps keep Americans safe and healthy to this day. 

The Poison Squad chronicles years of bureaucratic battles, the cowardice of elected officials, the triumph of food safety bills and the legislative compromises that greatly disappointed Wiley.

Without Wiley’s work, unscrupulous food, drink, and drug manufacturers would have continued to adulterate these products with poison and sold garbage under false labels.

For 29 years, Wiley was the bane of companies that peddled adulterated food. He objected to their practices publicly, and he had the science to back up his opinions.

The book is packed with political scandals and stories about awful historical practices.


Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer

Updated 54 min 57 sec ago

Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer

  • Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am said on Twitter he was racially targeted by a Qantas airline attendant
  • Qantas, which called the incident a ‘misunderstanding,’ has requested the rapper to retract his statement

MELBOURNE: Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, said on Monday it stood ready to offer legal assistance to a member of its flight crew named in a racism accusation by Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am on social media.
The US singer had taken a flight about 1-1/2-hours long to Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, from northeastern Brisbane to play at a concert on Saturday, but was met by Australian federal police at the arrival gate.
He said on Twitter he was racially targeted by an airline attendant, whom he identified by name, after failing to put away his laptop as the flight prepared to land, because he had put on noise-canceling headphones to “make beats.”
Qantas, which called the incident a “misunderstanding,” has requested the rapper to retract his statement.
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” a spokesman told Reuters in a statement.
Police confirmed they spoke to crew and passengers at the airport, but said no further action was required. “The Australian Federal Police considers this matter finalized,” they said in a statement.
On Saturday, will.i.am said in a post on Twitter, “Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing (the) P.A. due to wearing noise-canceling headphones appropriate?”
He added, “If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”
As of Monday, will.i.am had not made any retraction on social media, even as other commenters pointed out that the crew member he identified had received threats on social media as a result.
He pointed out that if he were rude to a fan or journalist, he would be publicly named.
“This is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer, more compassionate world,” will.i.am said.
Reuters was not able to contact the rapper through his agency, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.