Cover image for It was probably something you ate : a practical guide to avoiding and surviving foodborne illness
It was probably something you ate : a practical guide to avoiding and surviving foodborne illness
Fox, Nicols.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Penguin Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
ix, 229 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC143 .F69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
RC143 .F69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Slight fever. Nausea. A rumbling in the stomach. Diarrhea. What you might think is the flu was probably something you ate. Food-borne illness afflicts 81,000,000 Americans each year, killing 9,000 annually, and yet too many people ignore the fatal hazards lurking in our markets, restaurants, and kitchens.Now food-pathogen expert Nicols Fox offers a useful, informative guide to preventing, diagnosing, and surviving a food-borne illness. Far more serious than a slight discomfort in the abdomen, food-based pathogens can have long-term physical consequences, leaving victims with lifelong impairment of the digestive system and damage to the lungs, ears, kidneys, brain, and heart. Fox surveys the complicated terrain of food-borne disease, profiling common and uncommon pathogens such as Salmonella, hepatitis A, E. coli, Campylobacter, and Cyclospora. She also outlines practical advice for dealing with common symptoms and illness-prevention techniques for the home and restaurants. Combining the real stories of victims of food-borne illness with the most up-to-date information about emerging food-borne pathogens, It Was Probably Something You Ate is a sourcebook you may not be able to live without.

Author Notes

Journalist Nicols Fox is the author of Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth about a Food Chain Gone Haywire (paperback title Spoiled: Why Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do about It). Spoiled focuses on food-borne diseases, such as E. coli and Salmonella, that kill almost 9,000 Americans each year.

Fox first became interested in the subject in 1993, when she read about a group of children on the west coast who had become seriously ill and, in several cases, had died, after eating hamburgers contaminated with E. coli bacteria at a local fast-food restaurant. She began researching the subject, and reached the frightening conclusion that the E. coli incident she'd read about was not an isolated incident; food, particularly meat, becomes contaminated with E. coli and other pathogens very easily because of the way the Americans mass-produce, process, and distribute food.

As a result of several years of research, Fox wrote Spoiled and became a "reluctant" vegetarian. Fox has written articles for many journals, including The Economist and the Washington Journalism Review, where she worked as an editor for many years. She lives in rural Maine.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Both the number of risks our food supply poses and their dangers are increasing. Some risks arise from undercooking, but by far the most result from bad or careless production and processing. Fox lengthily yet clearly discusses the major food pathogens and some lesser-known ones--what they are, where they come from, how they work, and how they can be encouraged or destroyed--using tables to organize basic information and serve as reminders. She selects realistic and powerful illustrative stories to drive home the main points; one of the best is about the food that caused egg-borne salmonella despite having no eggs in its recipe. Irradiation is not the answer to food contamination, Fox argues, for it can produce free radicals and lower nutrient potency. So what can a person do to lower food-poisoning risks? When dining out, consider avoiding salad bars; when at home, follow Fox's advice; and don't overdo antacids, for they can lower the stomach's ability to resist poisons. Finally, Fox emphasizes that in consumers resides the power for change. --William Beatty

Library Journal Review

Illness from foodborne pathogens is common, striking millions of people and killing thousands annually. So argues investigative journalist Fox, whose previous book Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone Haywire (LJ 7/97) looked at ecological reasons for this widespread problem. This new work follows up with practical advice on how to avoid and recover from food poisoning as well as detailed information on specific pathogens. Fox also discusses cultural, technological, and institutional reasons for the recent surge in foodborne illnesses and suggests ways in which consumers might spark institutional change to make our food supply safer. This readable, balanced, and extensively researched work is a distinguished contribution to the small but growing literature of consumer sourcebooks on this issue. For public and academic librariesÄNoemie Maxwell Vassilakis, Seattle Midwifery Sch. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.