Food Poisoning, Policy and Politics: Corned Beef and Typhoid in Britain in the 1960s

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Overview

The problem of food poisoning and food-borne infections is currently one of vigorous debate, highlighted since the 1980s by numerous outbreaks and scares involving salmonella in lettuce and eggs, listeria in cheese, the links between vCJD and BSE, E.Coli 0157 in cooked meats, and foot and mouth disease. Yet, as this book shows, the various issues involved were important as early as 1963/4, when there were serious typhoid outbreaks in Harlow, South Shields, Bedford, and Aberdeen, traced to contaminated corned beef imported from Argentina. Based upon extensive research, using archives which have only recently become available, private papers, and interviews as well as secondary literature, the book analyses the course of the outbreak and looks at the responses of politicians, officials, health professionals, business interests, the media and the public. It also considers the difficult issue of the weighing of food safety against international trade and other business and economic interests; conflicts between government departments; rivalry between professionals such as doctors and veterinarians; the effects upon and influence of victims and local communities; and the conduct of and responses to an official enquiry. Overall, it draws out generic lessons for how such epidemics should be handled, adding an historical perspective to contemporary debates.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Fascinating, detailed and articulate. (...) A thoroughly researched and intensive study into a very overlooked episode in British public health. BULLETIN of the HISTORY of MEDICINE (US) (A) handsome book...thoroughly researched and carefully written book helpfully extends our understanding of food policy. MEDICAL HISTORYCarefully planned, clearly written, and meticulously researched, it offers an intriguing if unedifying insight into the operations, considerations, and negotiations extant in the corridors of British power. (...) Despite the authors' expressed hopes for the new British Food Standards Agency, their final sobering observation is of the potential similarities between 1964 and current issues of trade with China and the risks presented by avian influenza. THE JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIESThis well-constructed book is informative and extremely readable; it is an ideal tool for the undergraduate or postgraduate scholar studying food history or public health. Strongly recommended. RESEARCH CENTRE FOR THE HISTORY OF FOOD & DRINK
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843831389
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/15/2005
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David F. Smith is Lecturer in the History of Medicine at Aberdeen University, Scotland.

H. Lesley Diack is Research Fellow at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

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Table of Contents

1 The earlier history of typhoid and food poisoning 1
2 The 1963 corned beef-associated typhoid outbreaks in Harlow, South Shields and Bedford 38
3 The Aberdeen typhoid outbreak 58
4 The medical officer of health, the media and the public in the Aberdeen typhoid outbreak 96
5 Ministers, officials and the Aberdeen typhoid outbreak 127
6 The Milne Committee of Enquiry 158
7 The recommendation on the inspection of overseas meat plants : the roles of existing policy agendas, and interdepartmental and inter-professional tensions 199
8 The disposal of suspect canned meat : the priority of politics over technical advice 220
9 British action to encourage improvements in Argentine meat hygiene, 1964 to 1969 253
10 Summary and conclusions, and food safety since 1964 287
App Recommendations of the Milne Committee 310
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