by Marion Nestle
Jun 16 2023

Weekend viewing: Poisoned!

Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food, a Netflix documentary about food safety in the U.S., premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and I got to go.

It’s based on the book by Jeff Benedict about the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 poisonings in 1993, and features Bill Marler, the lawyer who represented the families of kids who got sick or died from eating undercooked hanburgers contaminated with that especially toxic form of E. coli.  

I got to go to the premier because I’m in it—one of the many talking heads.

From left to right: Alexa Ginsburg, Associate Producer; Kristen Lazure, Producer; Bill Marler, food safety lawyer and Poisoned star; Ross Dinerstein, Producer; Jeff Benedict, Author of Poisoned; Christine Haughney, Journalist; Sarah Sorscher, CSPI; Me; Darin Detwiler, father of boy who died from eating a Jack in the Box hamburger and food safety advocate; Stephanie Soechtig, Director.

My interview for this was so long ago—prepandemic?—that I had forgotten all about it.  I may be prejudiced but I think the film is terrific.

It really lays out what’s wrong with our food safety system and what needs to be done to fix it.  I thought I knew this stuff pretty well—see my book Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety—but I learned a lot from it, partly because the photography is so well done.

Some images are unforgettable (spoiler alert):

  • The children hooked up to tubes in hospitals.
  • Their grieving parents.
  • Vast confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) right next to fields of vegetables.
  • Representatives of the USDA and FDA: “the US has the safest food supply in the world.”
  • Bill Marler saying that he no longer has cases of people sick from eating hamburger since the USDA declared E. coli O157:H7 an adulterant.

It’s really worth seeing.

While waiting for Netflix to schedule it, Marler explains how you can see it on Tribeca at Home.

At Home Virtual Screenings will take place June 19 – July 2

    • Browser:
      • Members can use their login credentials (email & password) to access the At Home portal.
      • Single ticket holders can redeem their 9-digit voucher code for their screening. This code can be found in the confirmation email.
    • App: “Tribeca At Home”/ Available on Apple TV, Fire TVRoku
    • TV:
      • Download the OTT app for Apple TV (Gen4 and above), Fire TV, or Roku
      • Chromecast [3rd generation or later Chromecast stick] from a computer using the Chrome browser or an Android device to your TV.
      • Airplay from a computer, iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV (Gen 4 and above) or to any Smart TV bearing the “AirPlay” badge.
      • Connect your laptop to your TV via HDMI, VGA, or DVI cables.
    • Computer:
      • PCs running Windows 7+ [Browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera]
      • Intel-based Macs running macOS 10.12+  [Browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera]
      • *Internet Explorer is not supported
    • iPhone / iPad / Android:
      • Android: use Chrome on Android 6.0 or later
      • iPhone/iPad: use Safari on iOS 11.2 or later

It will get to Netflix evenually.  Watch out for it.