By the early 1900s, the burgeoning food industry had become a minefield for consumers; milk might contain formaldehyde, while old meat was typically preserved with borax. It was Harvey Washington Wiley, chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture, who began methodical investigations into food and drink fraud—even conducting human tests on volunteer groups of young men who came to be known as "the Poison Squad." A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Deborah Blum follows Wiley's 30-year campaign in support of the Pure Food and Drug Act, aided by reporter Upton Sinclair, cookbook author Fannie Farmer, and ketchup mogul Henry J. Heinz.
"[Blum's] prose is graceful…. A powerful reminder that truth can defeat lies, that government can protect consumers and that an honest public servant can overcome the greed of private interests."—NYTBR